Animal Rights and Rescue co-ordinator Barbara Steffensen and Lismore City Council ranger Joe Monks pictured with kelpie-cross pups treated for signs of the potentially deadly parvovirus.
Animal Rights and Rescue co-ordinator Barbara Steffensen and Lismore City Council ranger Joe Monks pictured with kelpie-cross pups treated for signs of the potentially deadly parvovirus. Jacklyn Wagner

Virus threat to our pets

DOG owners in the Lismore and Casino areas are being warned to be on high alert for the deadly parvovirus.

Already several pupes and adult dogs have died as a result of an outbreak veterinarians say is proving particularly tough to beat.

“The wet weather certainly isn’t helping,” said Ray Austin, from Keen Street Veterinary Clinic, who added that vets in the area have treated numerous cases.

“In a moist environment thevirus can live in the ground 12 months or more. It is then easily spread because people take it home on their shoes.”

Yesterday, Lismore City Council issued a warning to all residents that the parvovirus outbreak of recent months shows no signs of dying down in the cold weather.

“Over the past six months numerous cases of a parvo-like condition have come to our notice,” said ranger Joe Monks.

“The virus is extremely virulent, long-lasting and resistant to disinfecting treatments.

“As far as we know it is contracted by your dog coming into contact with faecal material from another dog carrying the virus. It can remain in the soil 14 months.”

Symptoms include depression, loss of appetite, vomiting and bloody diarrhoea, and death will usually ensue unless your dogreceives veterinary treatment, said Mr Monks.

He urged all pet owners to make sure their pets were vaccinated although he acknowledged there was some indication that the virus is proving resistant to some vaccination regimes.

Dogs should also be walked on paved areas, on leash, rather than allowed to run free. Faeces should be immediately disposed of, owners should wash their hands thoroughly and use bleach to disinfect their shoes.

Barbara Steffensen, of Northern Rivers Animal Rights and Rescue, believes the parvovirus outbreak has the potential to be “a complete disaster” for local pet owners.

“We have had several calls from people who have bought puppies that have died, as well as from people whose older dogs have been infected,” she said.

Veterinarians across Australia say they have been treating unusually high numbers of winter cases of the deadly disease.

“Every single puppy or kitten in Australia needs to be vaccinated against deadly diseases. This is much less expensive than treating your pet after it gets sick and saves the heartache of losing a new family member too soon,” said Dr Graham Swinney, of the Australian Veterinary Association.



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