Potentially deadly dog virus prompts pet warning

An outbreak of canine parvovirus is being reported in Chilliwack and the surrounding areas.

Potentially deadly dog virus prompts pet warning in Chilliwack.

An outbreak of canine parvovirus is being reported in Chilliwack and the surrounding areas.

“We have been made aware of a significant number of confirmed cases,” Trina Douglas, FVRD supervisor of Animal Control Services for Commissionaires B.C.

Parvovirus has been confirmed in 16 locations in and around Chilliwack, and of that number 14 were reported in the last week.

“There’s never that many at one time,” said Douglas.

It’s a big concern because the virus can live on the ground for a minimum of six months and can withstand freezing.

“So it’s difficult to eradicate once it’s in the environment.”

As a result, they’re advising dog owners to get their dog’s vaccinations up to date, to reduce off-leash walks on trails and dikes if unvaccinated.

Animal control has no current cases at its facility on Wolfe Road, and it has been parvo-free for two years. Dogs, as well as coyotes and wolves can carry and shed the virus, which is why it’s important for owners to clean up pet feces.

Dogs can be carriers and show no signs.

Parvovirus attacks the dog’s gastrointestinal system after fecal-oral contamination. It progresses quickly to extreme dehydration and secondary bacterial infections.

“Parvo is a nasty and virulent one,” said Dr. Tim Maarhuis, a local vet. “It can get severe very quickly. When they die of it, it’s from severe dehydration and bloody diarrhea.”

This is the first time in a decade he’s suddenly seen “an explosion of cases” on this scale.

Dr. Maarhuis treated three cases of parvo himself in the last month, and animal control officials have had 16 confirmed locations, in the upshot of recent discussions with other vets in the region. Strict quarantine conditions have to be imposed.

Early signs can include lethargy, lack of hunger, discoloured feces. It progresses quickly incubating in three to seven days.

The Chilliwack vet said he wishes the public could see a dog suffering with parvovirus to convince them of the value of effective vaccines.

“If a puppy gets a series of vaccines and then boosted at a year, it gets some good immunity.”

Otherwise it could costs thousands of dollars in hospital treatment, or the dog’s life. Treatment is mainly fluids by IV.

For more details Dr. Maarhuis recommended veterinarypartner.com.

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