Five cases of parvo in animals brought to shelter

August 13, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- A Humane Society of Washington County official said Thursday she is concerned about a "really serious" problem developing locally with parvovirus, an extremely contagious disease in dogs that can be fatal.

The shelter issued a press release Wednesday saying there have been four cases of parvovirus in animals that have been brought to the Maugansville Road shelter.

On Thursday, the number of cases rose to five when the disease was confirmed in a 4-month-old stray puppy that was brought to the shelter, said Katherine Cooker, manager of development and community relations at the shelter.

Dogs younger than 6 months old and frail, older dogs are most susceptible to parvo, the release said.

Parvovirus, commonly referred to as parvo, is transmitted through direct exposure to feces containing the virus or by exposure to an infected animal, the release said.


The disease can survive on inanimate objects like clothing, food pans and outside kennels, and items that have come into contact with the disease must be disinfected with bleach to control the spread of parvo, the release said.

Dogs that are infected with parvo show symptoms like extreme diarrhea that is frequently bloody and very foul smelling, the release said. Other symptoms are vomiting and lethargy.

It is unknown why there is a dramatic increase in parvo at the shelter, but one possible explanation is the downturn in the economy, which is forcing dog owners to put off the cost of inoculating their pet against the disease, the release said.

"This is an extremely dangerous situation. All the infected dogs were brought in by the public. That means the disease is out in the community," Paul Miller, executive director of the Humane Society of Washington County, said in the release.

Shelter workers "are bleaching everything" in an attempt to control parvo and they are not taking any of the shelter's dogs to community functions, like petting programs, Cooker said.

"Everybody needs to be on the alert. It's really serious," Cooker said in an interview.

How to prevent parvo

To help prevent the spread of parvo, officials recommend the following:

o Inoculate dogs against the disease.

o Dogs not vaccinated against the disease should not be taken anywhere they do not need to go.

o Closely observe dogs, and if symptoms like lethargy arise, immediately take the animal to a veterinarian.

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