Three confirmed cases of parvovirus in the Augusta County area

Published: Aug. 2, 2019 at 12:51 PM EDT
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Parvorvirus is a potentially deadly virus that attacks a dog's GI tract. It can live in the environment up to seven months and is very contagious.

The Animal Health Care Center in Waynesboro said an outbreak of the virus can spread very quickly, and they have seen three confirmed cases so far this summer.

Luckily, those dogs survived, but that is not always the case if it is not caught early.

The virus most commonly affects puppies and older dogs that do not have a strong immune system.

Parvovirus can be seen year-round, but it is most common in the summer.

Signs of parvovirus include: lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and not wanting to eat. It is best dogs be hospitalized if they do have the virus, because there, they can be monitored as the virus runs its course.

"We put them on fluids, we start them on antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections, we treat the symptoms of the vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes we'll do Tamiflu," Dr. Heather Wood, Veterinarian at the Animal Health Care Center, said.

Whenever a dog with the virus comes to the center, the staff will close down the room for a few days after treatment.

They clean the entire room with bleach to make sure the virus is not spread to any other dog that may come through.

Fortunately, parvovirus can be prevented by getting your dogs properly vaccinated. Your dogs should also be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, bordetella, leptospirosis and canine flu because it's so contagious.

Wood said puppies should be getting the full series of vaccinations from when they are six to eight weeks old until they are 12 to 16 weeks old to protect them from carrying the virus.

Dogs that are not vaccinated should not be brought to public areas, like dog parks or campgrounds, where they will be in contact with other dogs.

"The dog is shedding it in the GI tract, typically in the diarrhea, and another dog comes over and then steps in that and then goes to clean their feet, they can actually pick it up that way," Wood said.

Parasites can also be transmitted through a dog's bowel movements, which often times can also be transmitted to humans. Consider that one more reason to pick up after your dogs in public areas.