ó Veterinarians thought it odd when they saw eight
cases of the sometimes deadly canine parvovirus in
November at a Seattle-area animal-emergency clinic.
one-month figure was half what doctors at Animal
Critical Care & Emergency Services, or ACCES,
generally see over an entire year. Theyíve treated 28
cases so far in 2012 ó almost twice as many cases as
they usually treat in a year.
most of the pets ACCES sees are referred to them by
other vets who have informed owners that parvo treatment
can cost thousands of dollars, ACCES medical director
Dr. Beth Davidow started worrying that there could be a
much larger outbreak.
extremely contagious, which is why itís so important
to diagnose it as early as possible," Davidow said
of the virus. "Most adult dogs donít get very
sick from it, but it kills puppies."
the first time in 17 years of practice, Davidow said,
she saw a vaccinated 15-month-old dog come down with
ACCES put out an alert to other vet clinics last week to
push for better vaccination rates and to warn puppy
owners to be careful about where they take dogs that
arenít fully vaccinated.
not sure if this is a particularly virulent strain, but
there is a recent across-the-board increase at several
(animal) hospitals," said Lisa McCollough-Dutt, a
manager at the South Seattle Veterinary Hospital.
said she thinks a major contributing factor is peopleís
budgets tightening up.
get a lot of low-income owners in here who tend not to
vaccinate when they should," she said.
also said the informal selling and giving of dogs
through Craigslist has "definitely" increased
the rate of unvaccinated puppies. If there isnít paper
documentation that a puppy has been vaccinated, new
owners should assume the dog needs to be inoculated.
if someone told you they vaccinated the dog already, it
doesnít hurt to do it again," she said.
vaccinated adult dogs are likely not at risk for
contracting the virus ó which causes bloody vomiting,
diarrhea and dehydration ó puppies are. Even puppies
younger than 6 months that have had their first or
second parvo vaccine can be susceptible, according to
of the cases weíve seen have been puppies," she
said. "Your puppy is not covered until they have a
series of three parvo vaccines."
said most were infected while at a shelter, a pet store
or simply somewhere on a walk. Because it takes more
than one inoculation for a puppy to be fully immune, the
virus can sometimes spread at a shelter or store even if
the dogs have been properly vaccinated.
has a symptomless incubation period that can last two
weeks, so dogs carrying parvo canít always be
identified before they pass it on to others.
spreads easily to puppies or dogs with suppressed immune
systems and can live for as long as six months in dirt,
feeding dishes, collars, leashes or anything else onto
which dogs can shed the virus. It is extremely resistant
to heat, cold and just about every disinfectant, with
the exception of bleach. One close whiff or lick of an
infected area is all it takes for some dogs to come down
with the virus, Davidow said.
after an infected dog has gone through the most severe
phase of infection ó usually a week or less ó the
dog can shed the live virus through feces for up to six
puppies is important, but owners should make sure their
dogsí playmates are fully vaccinated, Davidow said. It
is possible for puppies to survive the disease, but many
donít without intensive treatment.
ACCES, which has offices in Seattle and Renton, the cost
of treating a dog with parvo ranges from $1,500 for two
days to $7,000 for eight days. The survival rate is 90
percent with treatment that includes intravenous fluids,
anti-nausea medication, antibiotics and plasma in severe
can nurse a sick dog at home with round-the-clock
attention, but many people who canít invest the time
or money to keep a puppy alive wind up having their dogs
euthanized, Davidow said.
single parvo combination vaccine shot usually costs
about $25, according to Terri Inglis, executive director
for Homeward Pet Adoptions Center in Woodinville, Wash.
no public agency tracks the number of parvo cases,
Davidow said, she believes itís the responsibility of
a large clinic like hers to keep track of how prevalent
the virus is.
said thereís also a chance the spike in parvo cases is
purely coincidental. While some smaller clinics sheís
called havenít seen any cases, some, such as one in
Shelton, Wash., recently dealt with a spate of 10 cases
linked to one pet store.