More laboratory tests have only continued to confirm that the illness sickening and killing dogs in Michigan was canine parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs.
Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are most at risk. The virus affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with feces, environments or people, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
“This situation is complex because although the dogs displayed clinical signs suggestive of parvovirus, they consistently test negative by point-of-care tests performed in clinics and shelters,” said MSU VDL director Kim Dodd, DVM. “Screening tests for parvo are done to help guide immediate isolation, disinfection, and treatment protocols. While those tests are valuable in the clinical setting, they are not as sensitive as the diagnostic tests we can perform here in the laboratory. We continue to further characterize the virus in hopes of better understanding why those animals were testing negative on screening tests.”
Michigan officials are letting dog owners know that they do not need to drastically change how they care for their pets or where they plan to travel. If a dog is fully vaccinated against parvovirus then they are protected against severe illness. Contact your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns.
MDARD is encouraging all dog owners to take a few simple steps to protect their animals:
- Keep up with routine vaccinations by ensuring dogs/puppies are vaccinated against canine parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis by a veterinarian.
- Have dogs/puppies fully vaccinated before interacting with other animals to keep them healthy and safe.
- Keep dogs/puppies at home and away from other dogs if they are exhibiting any signs of illness and contact your veterinarian.
- Be sure to clean up after your pet when you’re walking them in public.
How you can protect your dog from parvovirus
The most important way to protect your dog is to keep up with routine vaccinations, especially if you plan on traveling.
Ensure your dog is vaccinated against canine parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis.
If you have a puppy, make sure it has been fully vaccinated before you allow it to interact with other animals. You should keep all dogs and puppies away from other dogs if they have any signs of illness.
Make sure you clean up after your pet when you’re walking them in public to prevent the spread of illnesses. The virus can spread from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs, or through contaminated cages, shoes or other objects.
Parvovirus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying. It is known to survive in the environment for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important to get your dog vaccinated.
Parvovirus is not contagious to people or other animals.
Symptoms of parvovirus in puppies
Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following symptom onset, according to the AVMA. There aren’t any specific drugs that can kill the virus in infected dogs and treatment is to support the dog as it fights the infection.
The American Kennel Club said the following are symptoms of parvovirus in puppies.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
If your puppy has any of these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian.
How to clean after parvovirus
It is very difficult to completely eliminate the virus in your home after an infection has been present.
According to McEwen Animal Clinic, freezing is completely protective to the virus so if your yard is frozen you have to wait for it to thaw before you introduce a new puppy. Shaded areas should be considered contaminated for seven months and sunny areas should be considered contaminated for five months.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, bleach works for inactivating the virus. Bleach can be used on surfaces such as stainless steel or sealed floors but another option should be used for porous surfaces.
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