Parvovirus infection in dogs   

“Parvo” is the common abbreviation used by many vets (Veterinarians) to describe Parvovirus infection. It is an important and a highly contagious infectious disease caused by a virus called Parvovirus. The disease is typically seen in puppies and sometimes in adult dogs, which are not adequately vaccinated. It is more common during the summer and often has regional outbreaks and it is characterized by severe gastro-intestinal inflammation. Kennels, breeding colonies, shelters and pet stores are high-risk locations, where Parvovirus infection outbreaks may be devastating. Some breeds like Doberman pinscher, Rottweiler and English Springer spaniel appear to be more vulnerable. Other species such as the African Lion are susceptible to the same virus. In the domestic cat, the Feline Parvovirus causes Feline Distemper. 

Signs begin with depression and lack of appetite that progress rapidly to obvious weight loss, vomiting and diarrhea that become bloody, profuse and fetid. Left untreated, the disease culminates in coma and death. 

Affected puppies and dogs should be treated as an emergency. Any puppy with rapid onset of vomiting or diarrhea should be rushed to the veterinarian. Patients are treated aggressively in the hospital isolation ward. The treatment involves intravenous fluids, antibiotics and symptomatic medication. Blood transfusion is sometimes given as well.

The duration of the necessary treatment varies, however it usually is about a week to ten days. Survivors are immune for life and are not likely to get reinfected. 

Adult dogs can be silent carriers and transmit the virus to a newly acquired puppy. This appears to happen often and that’s why solid vaccination and preventative plan are so important. Properly used quality vaccines are protective. Parasite control and worming is essential since worms may contribute to decreased resistance and gastrointestinal injuries. 

Parvovirus is very resistant in the environment and many disinfectants are ineffective. Areas in contact with infected dogs should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with bleach. Isolation of young puppies is also helpful when possible.

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