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Parvovirus – The Puppy Killer
Canine parvovirus was first discovered in 1978. Because of its power and mobility, the virus continued to travel around the world in less than 2 years. Parvovirus is a mutated virus. Some feel it is a modified version of the feline distemper virus. Whatever the case, this highly contagious virus has mutated several times since it was officially discovered. Canine parvovirus has many different types, CPV1, CPV2. CPV2a, CPV2b, and CPV2c can all be killers. Although canine parvovirus can be prevented by proper vaccination, it is a very serious, dangerous disease, difficult to contain, and should be reduced or stopped immediately when suspected.
Canine parvo tends to infect Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, American Staffordshire Terriers and their Pit Bull cousins more easily than other dogs. The first and foremost way to prevent parvo infection is to get your puppy vaccinated. Unfortunately, no vaccine provides a 100% guarantee against parvo. Also, vaccinations help but there is no specific cure for the parvo virus. I have read horror story after horror story about unvaccinated puppies coming home from breeders or the pound only to go straight to the ER days later to die of Parvovirus. The puppy’s vaccination schedule should be kept up to date.
Parvo usually strikes puppies between 6 weeks and 6 months of age. Only 1,000 units of the virus are needed to cause infection. An infected dog passes 35 million particles in every ounce of feces. Parvo is widespread and covers a lot of ground than is common. Unfortunately, all a puppy has to do is sniff infected stool to stand a bad chance of contracting parvovirus. Infection is usually the result of ingestion. Oral contact with infected feces or a nearby area is sufficient to warrant infection as well. It is also interesting that parvo will survive almost anywhere. Parvo can be traced to a household by the footprints of someone who lives with a parvo-infected dog, or has visited a parvo-infected kennel or walked through an infected dog park. In taking on this issue, I have read reports of people who feel that parvo can live for years without a host. There are a lot of other stories that are followed in a new place with clothes, tires, other animals, wind and water. It can even survive the freezing cold of the earth during winter. In short, if you have a dog, it will encounter parvo sooner or later.
After contact is strong enough for infection, parvo enters an incubation period of three to fifteen days. Puppies are more contagious to other dogs at this time. Another interesting aspect of this virus is that its methods of attack can vary from dog to dog. Differences in the immune system, whether the puppy is still nursing, and age play a role in the variety of parvo symptoms. As mentioned earlier, proper shots and vaccinations are also key (there are stories of vaccinated dogs coming down with disease). An example of the different ways a virus can attack is that it can cause heart failure in a puppy less than 8 weeks old. Parvo can cause respiratory (lung) failure. An untreated dog can die within 48 to 72 hours without proper treatment. Mortality of this disease can hit 91% if untreated. The virus usually first settles in the lymph glands. Fever and depression are set as the disease affects the intestinal tract. Parvo also simultaneously damages the dog’s immune system as it shuts down the production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. Once in the intestinal tract, the main purpose of parvo is to tear the intestinal lining. The result of this is that the intestinal lining is rendered unable to absorb food and water. There is also the possibility of intussusception, which is when the intestines slip on their own. Intussusception is basically the narrowing of the intestinal segments in the retracting telescope. The only solution to intussusception is surgery. Currently, the dog cannot control its water loss (vomiting and diarrhea) or stop the infection caused by the virus.
Treatment for parvo is anti-nausea medication, fluid therapy (for frequent vomiting and diarrhea), and antibiotics. With proper treatment there is an 80 percent recovery rate. Any dog that survives parvo is generally considered to be immune for life against recurrence.
In the case of post-parvo cleaning, everything the infected dog has come in contact with needs to be sterilized. This means all dishes, floors, beds, crates, etc. etc. Bleach is the main agent for killing parvo in floors. Steam cleaning drapes, curtains, and upholstered furniture is another way to kill parvo. I’ve read stories of people staying vigilant about their parvo-disinfection for over six months. A warning I’ve heard over and over is that sterile surfaces can easily become infected.
The accepted belief is that parvo will last 30 days indoors after it is introduced. The virus may still be alive, but it doesn’t have the numbers to pull off a dead infection. Furthermore, all areas where the dog defecated must be cleaned with bleach or removed from the yard. Shaded areas where an infected dog has left its feces should be considered contagious for seven months. Areas in the sun where an infected dog has left its feces should be considered infectious for five months. Another yard solution is to thoroughly wet infected areas to reduce infection. There are also reports of people pouring bleach directly onto infected areas in their yards to kill parvo. In fact, it can be difficult to completely remove parvo from an area. What needs to happen is that the virus needs to be reduced to the point where it can’t attack. All dogs experience parvo sooner or later in their lives. The longer a dog lives, the more time it has to build up its own defenses.
If there’s any reason to get your new puppy vaccinated and up to date on his shots, parvo is definitely it. Parvo is one of the worst things that can happen to a new puppy and its owner. With proper knowledge about symptoms, shots, and understanding of its acute migration, the puppy owner can hope to control and reduce the chances of parvovirus attack.
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#Parvovirus #Puppy #Killer