Canine Parvovirus causes serious life threatening gastroenteritis and is highly transmissible. Prior to the development of an effective vaccine it was a leading cause of death in dogs.
This is a hardy virus persisting in the soil and other contaminated environments for up to 7 months. Dogs became infected by coming into contact with an infected dog or contaminated site. Once infected the virus damages the intestinal lining and suppresses the immune system by attacking the lymph nodes and bone marrow. Symptoms include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
Vets diagnose parvovirus disease with a special faeces test (ELISA). A false positive result may occur 3-10 days after vaccination.
Treatment can be intensive and difficult with long hospitalisation required. Fluid therapy, electrolyte replacement, pain relief, anti nausea medication, plasma transfusions, antibiotics and treating concurrent parasite infections are often necessary. Up to 19% of puppies can die post infection.
Vaccination is highly effective. Tuggeranong Veterinary Hospital recommends puppies are vaccinated at 6-8 weeks, 10-12 weeks and 16 weeks off age. Adults are vaccinated at 18 months of age and then every 3 years. Parvovirus vaccinations are combined with Infectious Hepatitis and Distemper and therefore known as C3 vaccines. The World Small Animal Veterinary Association and Australian Veterinary Association have recognised canine parvovirus, distemper and canine hepatitis as core vaccines.