March 13, 2014 | Vol. 40, No. 11

Parvovirus reported in Wrangell

WRANGELL — A highly contagious and potentially fatal canine virus has been reported in Wrangell.

Two cases of Parvovirus, symptoms of which include lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody diarrhea, have been reported in Wrangell, said Judge Conniff, a local vet.

“I had two cases, both of them doing very well, both of them discharged,” he said.

Several dog deaths earlier in the year could be tied to this outbreak, but there’s no way to know for sure, Conniff said.

“No way to know the answer to that question for sure,” he said. “We’ve had some enteric disease dogs that seem to have died from enteric disease that were never truly diagnosed with Parvo over the last year and a half. None of them that have been definitively diagnosed as Parvo have died.”

The virus is lethal, killing up to 95 percent of “naieve” dogs, or those that haven’t been vaccinated, Conniff said.

“It’s a tough disease, it’s a nasty disease,” he said. “It’s very pathogenic, it’s very contagious.”

Veterinarians recommend that dogs receive an annual booster shot against the virus, Conniff said. Even dog owners who know for sure their pooch has been vaccinated should check their calendars, Conniff said.

Parvovirus typically attacks a dog’s intestinal tracts, but can also attack white blood cells or cardiac tissue, particularly in young dogs, according to the ASPCA website.

“The virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet, and floors,” the website reads in part.

Vaccination is the best method of prevention, since treatments for dogs who have contracted the disease are largely aimed at preventing the symptoms from killing the dogs long enough for the animal’s immune system to take over, Conniff said.

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