Parvovirus shock in Bega Valley

A DRAMATIC rise in parvovirus has shocked veterinarians in the Bega Valley as they urge pet owners to vaccinate their dogs. 

“We usually see about one to two cases of parvo a year, but we’ve had 15 cases in the past month,” vet Nicky Patrickson from Bega and Cobargo Veterinary Hospitals said. 

Parvovirus a highly contagious virus affecting dogs, causing extreme vomiting and diarrhoea leading to severe dehydration and secondary infections. 

In puppies parvovirus can be fatal. 

Ms Patrickson said parvovirus is passed on through dog faeces and the virus can stay in the environment for up to 10-12 years. 

“If you have had a dog with parvo in the area, that area is effectively contaminated for a long period of time. 

“Other dogs come into that environment and get parvo by ingesting it and it affects their gastro-intestinal system.

“It is extremely contagious and when we have dogs in here we have full isolation protocol for them and we have be fully gowned and gloved.” 

Ms Patrickson said the recent parvo outbreak is frustrating for local veterinarians.

“It’s terrible to see these dogs suffer from something easily preventable by having your dog vaccinated,” she said. 

“It’s very frustrating.

“For the sake of a few jabs your dog can be saved the pain of getting parvo, it really just comes down to responsible pet ownership.” 

Puppies need a three-course vaccination program to protect them from parvovirus, starting between six and eight weeks of age. 

“The third must be given after 14 weeks, because it’s around this point any immunity they may have gotten through their mother’s milk will have worn off,” Ms Parkinson said. 

She stressed that puppies need the full three courses of inoculations and shouldn’t just be brought in at 14 weeks for one shot.   

“Having your animal vaccinated costs a tenth of what parvo treatment would.

“Some of the dogs we’ve treated this month have died, and while most have recovered the pain they go through is horrible to watch.”

“The disease is caused by a virus, so we don’t have any means of eradicating a virus from a dog.

“We can only let its immune system do the work and offer supportive treatment with hydration and antibiotics to stop secondary infections. 

“The dogs also need to be in hospital for at least a week, and combined with the treatment costs, this is an extremely expensive process. 

“As well as feeding and housing your animal, pet ownership is also about providing for their basic health needs,” Ms Parkinson said. 

“Our biggest frustration as vets is seeing animals sick with preventable diseases, and parvo is a prime example of this.” 

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