Source: Yahoo News (Extract)
Posted: October 20, 2023

Dog owners across the country have been told to be on high alert after the highly contagious parvovirus was detected in a rehoming centre, forcing it to temporarily close in attempt to suppress the outbreak.

Cases of the canine virus were first identified last Thursday at Maitland’s Animal Rehoming Centre in NSW’s Hunter Valley, with the facility confirming to Yahoo News Australia a total of six dogs have been affected — with five already euthanised while the sixth is currently at an RSPCA hospital.

“It’s relatively widespread across the lower Hunter Valley at this stage. Measures are being taken to do what we can to limit the spread,” Maitland City Council spokesperson said. “There is a high mortality rate associated with the virus.”

“Staff are implementing a range of precautionary measures, such as chemically sanitising surfaces and footpaths across the facility and additional personal protective equipment protocols for staff members “

Many other council areas have pinged health notifications out to residents warning them of the danger, yet it’s not only dogs within close proximately to the outbreak at risk of contracting the virus.

Parvovirus can survive up to ‘seven years’ in area

The virus is incredibly contagious due to its ability to linger in an area, making it a heightened risk as it is known to commonly spread from dog to dog through faeces.

“It just literally takes one dog from the Hunter Valley to travel anywhere in Australia, they’ll take that virus with them, and they’ll do a sh*t it in the dirt and it can live in that area for for up to seven years,” Dr Liam Donaldson from Greencross Vet Hospital told Yahoo News. “It can spread very quickly.”

The ‘big four’ signs dog owners need to look out for

There are four frequently experienced symptoms that can help a dog owner identify the parvovirus, Dr Donaldson said:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Disinterest in eating
  • Lethargy / Disinterest in interacting with others

If a dog owner expects their pet may have the parvovirus, it is recommended to seek veterinary care immediately, with hydration being the main priority.

“You need to keep them hydrated because they lose so much fluid through their diarrhoea. So if we can keep them hydrated and get them on some intravenous antibiotics and get some food into them, that’s the biggest thing we can do,” he explained.

Best way to safeguard your dog against the parvovirus

There is a “very effective” vaccine which helps to protect dogs against the dangers of parvovirus, with many owners of puppies advised not to let their young dogs walk outdoors until they are vaccinated for this very reason.

Dogs are given three shots of the vaccine weeks after their birth, with the last given at 16 weeks, with a further two weeks indoors required before they are fully protected. Authorities are urging pet owners to ensure their pet is fully updated with the virus.

“At this stage, dogs being up to date on their vaccinations is the most effective method of ensuring that pets are protected against the parvovirus. If they’re not vaccinated, then pet owners are putting their pet at risk,” Maitland City Council spokesperson said.