from left, Faith Butcher (8), Angus Butcher (6) with their dog, a bull mastiff, Sarge 16 weeks, getting check by veterinary nurse Bec Canu, of Ballina Vet Hospital Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star
from left, Faith Butcher (8), Angus Butcher (6) with their dog, a bull mastiff, Sarge 16 weeks, getting check by veterinary nurse Bec Canu, of Ballina Vet Hospital Photo Mireille Merlet-Shaw / The Northern Star Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Deadly virus strikes dogs

AN outbreak of deadly parvovirus in Ballina has led veterinarians to issue a desperate plea for pet owners to vaccinate their dogs.

Ballina Veterinary Hospital in River St has seen four dogs with the disease this week.

But because it is incredibly contagious, they are expecting more.

Vet nurse Bec Canu said it was a "horrible, destructive disease" that almost certainly led to death for puppies and dogs.

"As a policy, we don't treat parvovirus because of cross contamination, and it is highly contagious," she said.

"But some clinics will treat it, although it's very expensive.

"This is not a disease that we normally see in Ballina.

"The message we want to give is that parvovirus is easily avoided by vaccinating your dogs.

"Pet owners should bring their dogs in every year to check their antibody levels."

Parvovirus is a deadly infection that causes vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, leading to dehydration.

The virus attacks by rapidly dividing groups of cells in the body, specifically bone marrow and intestinal cells.

Once the bone marrow is affected, the white blood cell count drops and causes the immune system to shut down.

The lining of the intestines becomes damaged and the dog's body won't be able to absorb nutrients or digest food.

RSPCA NSW chief veterinarian Dr Magdoline Awad said any dog showing parvovirus symptoms should be taken immediately to a vet.

"If excessive fluid loss occurs, then severe shock and death result," Dr Awad said.

"The dogs that are at greater risk of contracting parvovirus are young puppies and unvaccinated dogs.

"Highly contagious, the virus can survive up to a year in the environment and favours hot, humid conditions."

DEADLY PARVOVIRUS

Parvovirus enters the dog's

system through the mouth.

It takes about three to seven

days for the disease to become

active in the body.

Within a few days, the virus

will begin shedding in the stool.

Symptoms might not appear for another few days.



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