Shelter closed to prevent spread of parvovirus

-A A +A
By Staff Reports

The Galax-Carroll-Grayson Animal Shelter will be closed through April 8 due to a suspected case of parvovirus at the shelter, according to a news release from City Manager Keith Barker.

Some puppies began showing symptoms of parvovirus after spending a couple of days at the shelter, Barker told the Gazette. The contagious disease is fatal to dogs.

They were taken to a local veterinarian, where they tested negative for parvo. However, they still had all of the symptoms.

The vet recommended they be euthanized to prevent potentially contaminating other dogs," Barker said. "We believe the puppies were probably in an incubation period when they came to the shelter."

Dogs that are taken into the facility are given a distemper and parvo vaccination upon intake, however this will not stop the disease if it already in place or in incubation. After the vaccination, it takes 26 to 29 days to build the immunization needed to combat the disease.

After talking to supervising veterinarian Dr. Fincher, it was decided that the shelter would close for a week to prevent further spread of the virus, Barker said.

The shelter will re-open on April 9.


What is parvo?
The canine parvovirus, sometimes truncated as “parvo,” is an acute and highly contagious disease. When the virus catches hold, it attacks rapidly producing cells in areas such as the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. It can particularly cause severe symptoms with puppies that don’t have the protection of maternal antibodies or vaccination.
Some cases can be treated by veterinary hospitalization, and vaccines can prevent infection. However, mortality rates reach up to 91 percent in untreated cases.

How do dogs get parvo?
Infected dogs pass the virus on in their stools for up to several weeks after they are infected. Other dogs pick up the virus orally through direct or indirect contact with the infected dog’s stool.
Parvo can be carried on the dog’s hair, feet, contaminated bedding, shoes or other objects that have been in direct contact with infected feces.
Parvo can be passed on to dogs of any age, but it mostly attacks puppies from six to 12 weeks old.
Doberman Pinschers and Rottweilers are noted as breeds that are more vulnerable to the virus, and experience more severe symptoms. Why these breeds have a lower resistance is unknown.

What are the symptoms?
The virus has two forms: cardiac and intestinal.  Intestinal form causes symptoms such as vomiting and dysentery, while the cardiac form causes respiratory or cardiovascular failure.
After about a four- to five-day incubation period, symptoms including depression, vomiting and diarrhea set in. Fevers up to 106 degrees are also present in some cases. Dogs with these symptoms are in severe danger of dehydration, which leads to an imbalance of electrolytes.
The intestinal lining can also become compromised, causing blood and protein to leak into the intestines. This causes anemia and loss of protein, and endotoxemia due to endotoxins escaping into the bloodstream.
Dogs develop a strong odor in the later stages of infection, and their white blood cell levels fall.
Any or all of these factors eventually lead to shock and death.

How do I know if my dog has parvo?
If a dog develops symptoms of parvo, they should immediately be taken to a vet and tested for the virus. The chance of survival is larger if the virus is found quickly.

How can I prevent parvo?
Prevention is the only way to ensure that a puppy or dog remains free of the virus. The virus itself is extremely dangerous, and very hard to kill. It survives extremely cold and hot temperatures, and the only effective household cleaner that kills the virus is bleach.
To ensure that pets are safe against parvo, seek an immunization from a veterinarian.
A dog that recovers from parvo can remain contagious for up to six weeks, so quarantine is especially important in preventing the spread of the disease.
Parvo can be devastating both for dogs and their owners, but a little prevention goes a long way in keeping pets healthy and happy. Always keep pets up to date on their check-ups and vaccinations to prevent parvo and other health risks.