The local news media has had a lot of coverage the past few days regarding the recent outbreak of Canine Parvovirus. The statement from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources reports at this time all cases have been in Lowell, MA area.
Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) is a highly contagious often fatal disease in dogs. Any dog can be affected but it is most often seen in unvaccinated or poorly vaccinated puppies and adult dogs.
Parvovirus attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system of affected puppies and dogs. It can also attack the heart of very young puppies. The virus is spread through direct contact with infected dogs or infected feces. The virus is very stable in the environment and can last for long periods of time, making it very easily transmitted via different surfaces.
The early symptoms of Parvovirus are often confused with other less serious gastrointestinal illnesses, which can cause a delay in treatment. The symptoms dog owners need to be aware of are; lethargy, severe vomiting, severe diarrhea (bloody), anorexia and fever. Though a large percentage of treated dogs do survive if they are diagnosed early and given aggressive supportive care, the cost of such treatment can be costly. Dogs and puppies that are left untreated or are not diagnosed early enough have a mortality rate above 90%.
Proper vaccination of Parvovirus is the best means of prevention. The vaccination for Canine Parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2) is included in what we refer to as the Distemper Vaccine. In general, puppies should receive a minimum of 3 doses of vaccine from the age of 6 to 16 weeks with an additional vaccine one year after the last. Booster vaccinations will then be given at 1 to 3 year intervals.