Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious and serious, potentially fatal disease caused by a virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract of puppies and dogs.
It also can damage the heart muscle in very young and unborn puppies. Dogs infected with Parvovirus are often said to have "Parvo".
HOW DO DOGS CATCH PARVOVIRUS ?
Parvovirus is highly contagious and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated faeces, environments or people.
The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.
Dogs may carry the virus on their fur and on their feet even if they themselves do not get ill. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for very long periods of time (7months or more).
Even very small amounts of faeces containing Parvovirus may serve as environmental reservoirs of the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment.
Insects and rodents may also serve as vectors (or carriers) playing an important role in the transmission of the disease.
The virus enters the dog through its nose or mouth and has an incubation period (time from exposure to the virus
to the time when signs of disease appear) from 3 days to 2 weeks (usually 5-7 days).
Parvovirus can be found in the faeces several days before clinical signs of disease appear, and may last for one to two weeks after the onset of the disease.
WHAT DOGS ARE AT RISK ?
ALL DOGS ARE AT RISK, but puppies that are less than six months old and dogs that have not been vaccinated against Parvovirus are at an increased risk of infection and becoming ill from the virus
Parvovirus infection causes lethargy; loss of appetite; fever; vomiting; severe, often bloody diarrhoea; and DEATH. Vomiting and diarrhoea can cause rapid dehydration, and most deaths from Parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs.
Acute Parvovirus enteritis can be seen in dogs of any breed, sex, or age and there is a broad range in the severity of symptoms shown by dogs that are infected with Parvovirus.
Many adult dogs exposed to the virus may show very few symptoms and the majority of cases of disease are seen in dogs less than 6 months of age with the most severe cases seen in puppies younger than 12 weeks of age.
The disease will progress very rapidly and death can occur as early as two days after the onset of the disease.
The presence of bacteria, parasites, or other viruses can also worsen the severity of the disease and slow the recovery.
There may also be differences in response to Parvovirus infections among different breeds of dogs, with Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and Labrador Retrievers reportedly being more susceptible than other breeds.
A less common form of the disease causes myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) in young or unborn puppies and this can cause sudden death