Vets issue warning as deadly parvovirus spreads at Ballina

DEADLY canine illness parvovirus is spreading in the Ballina area, prompting vets to warn dog owners to vaccinate pets.

Ballina Veterinary Hospital owner Dr Ian King said he had seen four recent cases of the virus, which caused severe and painful vomiting, diarrhoea and intense depression in dogs.

"That's only one manifestation," he said. "It also causes abortion, devitalised pups to be born, and it can cause cardiac conditions as well."

Ballina Shire Council environmental health manager Rod Willis said the council's pound closed two weeks ago after seven dogs with parvovirus had to be euthanised.

Mr Willis said the pound had been sanitised, cleaned and reopened, but warned pet owners that cases of parvovirus were widely spread.

Dr King said parvovirus could remain in the environment for some time and was spread through faeces or bodily fluids. It could also be passed on by humans through contaminated clothing.

"Any of the bodily discharges from an infected dog will be infective, so if somebody walks in some infected faeces on the footpath, they can transmit it to their home, and if their dog licks at the contaminated boots, you've got transfer.

"An animal will come in contact with an infected animal and within seven to 14 days it will show very acute clinical signs of the virus."

While some animals can overcome the virus in about two weeks through expensive treatment, Dr King said parvovirus was fatal in most cases for dogs less than 18 weeks old.

He said treatment involved the dog being isolated and given intensive therapy with intravenous fluids and antibiotics for up to two weeks.

"There is a suggestion that rottweilers, doberman pincers, pitbulls, labrador retrievers, german shepherds, english springer spaniels and alaskan sled dogs are more susceptible to parvovirus," Dr King said.

But he said unvaccinated dogs of any breed were more likely to be affected by the virus that their vaccinated canine friends.

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