Berkeley County Animal Control kennel remains closed due to parvovirus

December 02, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD |

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Animal Control's kennel remains closed due to an outbreak of canine parvovirus, but Sheriff Kenneth M. Lemaster said Friday he expects the facility to reopen next week.

Lemaster said officials decided to continue the quarantine through the weekend at the kennel on South Queen Street to make sure it is clear of the disease.

"We were hoping to have it cleaned up by Friday," Lemaster said.

The facility was put under a voluntary quarantine Monday.

Sheriff's Lt. Willie Johnson, who oversees day-to-day animal-control operations, said Tuesday that about a dozen dogs had been exposed to the disease in a buildingwide infection, but was unclear how many, if any, dogs would have to be euthanized.  

The agency is not associated with the Berkeley County Humane Society and did report having any cases of parvovirus this week.

Lemaster could not say what caused the outbreak, but said the facility has had small outbreaks before.

While precautions are routinely taken and animals are kept separated, Lemaster said the spread of infection, like illness in a hospital, can be difficult to contain.

Canine parvovirus, commonly known as parvo, is an extremely contagious and potentially fatal canine disease that is transmitted by direct exposure to feces containing the virus or through contact with an affected animal.

A dog that has contracted the disease usually will exhibit extreme diarrhea that is frequently bloody and very foul smelling, vomiting, lethargy and will become dehydrated.

If untreated, the disease often is fatal.

To protect the public and prevent the spread of the disease, the county's animal-control facility was put under a voluntary quarantine Monday, according to a sheriff's department news release.

Until the quarantine is lifted, no animal can be released to or recovered from the kennel, which was to be disinfected

Quarantining the kennel prevents members of the public from picking up the disease and bringing it home to family pets, Johnson said.

Lemaster said Friday that he felt the county's animal-control facility was adequate and that infectious outbreaks are simply difficult to prevent, even with multiple preventative measures in place.

A number of improvements have been made at the kennel, including reporting systems and building modifications to improve the facility as well as working conditions for animal-control officers, Lemaster said.

"There are times we could use a larger facility ... It's not at a crisis stage, but its something we'll have to look at in the future," Lemaster said.

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