LASA worried about parvovirus

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Lewisburg Animal Shelter Adoptions (LASA) group is going from strength to strength, with more and more dogs adopted, conditions improving at the Shelter, and Facebook friends increasing every day.

However, things could soon take an abrupt turn for the worse, with an outbreak of parvovirus.

According to LASA members this seems be an annual occurrence in the spring.

"A lot of people will be seeing parvo and don't understand it," said LASA board member Tisha Poling. "It's not specifically a shelter issue," she continued, but, due to the close quarters, disease can spread easily throughout a shelter population.

The symptoms of parvovirus are frothy vomit and very bloody diarrhea, leading to dehydration, then depression, lethargy, and -- very often -- death.

"It's frightening," Poling exclaimed.

An effective vaccination is available, and usually given to puppies in a series of doses. If you have a puppy that is not yet fully protected by vaccination, Poling urges you to keep it at home, away from other dogs that may not have symptoms but could be shedding the parvovirus. The virus will live in the environment for up to a year, and the only household disinfectant that will kill it is bleach.

A variation of parvo affects the heart and lungs, and young puppies can die from this in 24 to 48 hours with the only symptom being respiratory distress. Poling emphasizes that the cause of death in a young puppy needs to be identified -- it could be parvo, which is then present on the property, ready to infect your next puppy.

Parvo can be treated, but survival depends on quick diagnosis and aggressive treatment. Severe cases require prolonged veterinary hospitalization, and antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and even plasma transfusions. Even with the best, and most expensive care, there is no guarantee that a puppy will survive.