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The Parvovirus is known worldwide and causes disease in many different species of animals. Different strains of virus only infect certain types of animals. For example, the Canine Parvovirus (Parvo) will mainly infect dogs and does not cause disease in cats or humans. Feline Parvovirus, a different strain of virus, causes a different type of disease known as Feline Distemper.
Canine Parvovirus made its first appearance in the late 1970's and was first identified as a distinct disease in 1978. As a result of global travel and the importation of animals, the disease spread around the world in only one to two years. The
disease has a high fatality rate if left untreated. The virus attacks and kills many layers of the lining of the intestines of an infected dog. Most infected dogs will show signs of diarrhea often times foul smelling with blood in it, vomiting, and lethargy. The two main ways dogs will succumb to the virus are sepsis (blood poisoning) or dehydration. For these reasons patients with this disease are treated in the clinic under intensive care being given intravenous fluids and intravenous antibiotics along with many other medications. Survival rates when treated appropriately are quite good, but do vary case by case.
The virus is released into the environment from infected dogs when they have a bowel movement. The infectious virus can stay active for years even in our environment. The virus can be passed along on fomites (inanimate objects) such as shoes. When unprotected dogs come into contact with the virus, infection occurs when the virus is ingested. All dogs are at risk, but unvaccinated puppies are particularly susceptible to infection.
Vaccination and cleanliness are critical to preventing Parvovirus infection. Your Veterinarian will design a vaccination schedule tailored to your pet’s particular needs.