The potentially fatal Parvovirus or ‘Parvo’ is on an upward swing in the Inverell area.
Traditionally associated with summer, local veterinarians are seeing an early flush of cases, which doesn’t bode well for the warm season ahead.
Dr Kim Kelly is a vet with the Inverell Vet Clinic and said the clinic had seen three cases before 11am on Monday morning and had at least one more suspected case on the scheduled to come in by lunchtime.
Gowrie Vet Clinic has also seen an alarming surge of cases in the past few weeks and reported losing an entire litter of puppies to the virus.
One Gowrie vet said, “I’ve worked all kinds of places, and it’s definitely the worst I’ve ever seen in the world. It’s not getting better; it’s getting worse.”
Dr Kelly was equally dire in her report of the virus’ impact in the community.
“The last couple of weeks, we’ve had reports of dogs dying, we’ve seen a lot clinically, we’ve treated a few in house, but we’ve treated a lot out of the clinic as well.”
Dogs first show signs of the illness by going off their food or looking depressed. The symptoms escalate to the vomiting, dysentery or diarrhoea, which are classic signs of Parvo. Survival depends on the age and condition of the dog and the progression of the disease.
The virus is highly contagious and spread through contact with an infected dog, dog faeces, and can be transmitted from a person’s clothing or shoes to their pet.
“Flies will carry it, so any food that’s been left out that you’re dog hasn’t eaten, get rid of it, because flies will land on it that have been near infected dogs,” Dr Kelly said.
She advised owners or puppies to keep their dogs from roaming and attend to a vaccination plan for puppies starting from 6 weeks of age, requiring a series of three shots, then an annual booster.
“Isolation isn’t always guaranteed. You must vaccinate your dogs.”
The Australian Veterinary Association said, “Young puppies and dogs that have not been vaccinated are particularly susceptible to the effects of this virus. The death rate in young non-vaccinated puppies can be greater than 80 per cent.”
Dr Kelly said one contributing factor to the recent surge in Parvo could be owner negligence.
“There’s a vaccination downturn possibly; people not being vigilant and people not vaccinating their puppies.”
There is no cure for Parvo and the best vets can do is treat the symptoms and hope the dog is strong enough to survive. Dr Kelly said the annual vaccine is substantially cheaper than nursing a sick dog through the virus.
“Way, way, way cheaper. It’s very cheap insurance.”