Did you know that the canine parvovirus was first discovered in 1967, and that a new particularly virulent strain was discovered in the year 2000?
Despite a highly effective vaccine which covers all the current strains of canine parvovirus, there are still regularly cases of parvovirus in unvaccinated animals in Sydney, and there was a puppy infected locally in the past couple of weeks.
Parvovirus is shed in extremely large numbers in the faeces of infected dogs, and can survive months in the environment. Only a tiny amount of this infected faeces needs to enter the body of an unvaccinated dog via ingesting it or even grooming it off their body.
Most patients affected by parvovirus are puppies. When they are born, puppies are unable to make their own antibodies and are reliant on the antibodies from their mother. Each puppy in the litter will receive a different quantity of antibodies, and their antibody level falls by fifty percent every nine days. By 16 weeks of age, most puppies will no longer have maternal antibodies, and if unvaccinated are vulnerable to parvovirus infection.
Upon entering a dog’s body, parvovirus targets the lymph nodes of the throat, where it rapidly multiplies before entering the blood stream. This allows it access to spread to the rapidly dividing cells in both the bone marrow and the intestine, where the virus inflicts its damage. In the bone marrow it destroys the immature white blood cells, leaving the puppy with a weakened immune system. At the same time, parvovirus destroys the newly dividing intestinal cells, leaving the puppy with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and fluid loss, and often septic shock from intestinal bacteria which gain entry to the blood stream via the damaged intestine.
Parvovirus is a highly virulent virus which kills many of the puppies it infects. Thankfully the parvovirus vaccine is highly effective, and is one of the core vaccines given to both puppies and adult dogs. If you are unsure if your dog’s vaccination is up to date, please phone Gordon Vet on 9498 3000
Written by Helen Burns
Helen graduated from Sydney Uni in 1997 with First Class Honours and worked in a practice on the Northern Beaches for 16 years. Helen joined the Gordon Vet team early in 2014 and our clients have really enjoyed getting to know her. She loves being a vet and takes a keen interest in all of her patients. Her gentle, friendly nature helps pets to feel relaxed when they visit the vet.
Helen lives locally and has 3 children. At least one of her children seems destined to be a vet! When not ferrying her children around, Helen cares for her menagerie of pets. These include Chloe the dog, Obi and Leia the cats, Little Cocky the galah and Rosie the very tame eclectus parrot who all happily coexist at her house.
In her spare time, Helen likes to be active outdoors, running, kayaking, camping or playing any manner of sport with her children.
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