Within the past month, we had a patient (our first in the new isolation ward) with parvovirus.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that has both an intestinal and cardiac form. The intestinal manifestation results in weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, etc., while the cardiac is less common and can lead to death, especially in young puppies (6 weeks – 6 months) since the heart muscles are attacked. “The intestinal form of CPV affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption” (#1). CPV dogs may have either a high or low body temperature, and the exhaustive nature of the symptoms results in lethargy.
Transmission of the virus occurs after direct contact with an infected animal or a fecal-oral route. Just sniffing the feces of an infected dog can lead to infection due to the high concentration of the virus. There is evidence of CPV surviving in the environment for up to a year in soil. Vaccines are available for the virus and bleach is the only known method of killing it. “For unknown reasons, certain dog breeds, such as Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, Pit Bulls, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, English Springer Spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease” (#1).
There is no real cure for CPV, as it is a virus, so treatment focuses on the symptoms presented and preventing any infections. The virus weakens the immune system so disease prevention protocols are even more important. Intravenous (IV) fluids will certainly be used to compensate for fluid loss due to diarrhea and vomiting. “The survival rate in dogs is about 70 percent, but death may sometimes result from severe dehydration, a severe secondary bacterial infection, bacterial toxins in the blood, or a severe intestinal hemorrhage. Prognosis is lower for puppies, since they have a less developed immune system. It is common for a puppy that is infected with CPV to suffer shock, and sudden death” (#1).
I believe our parvo patient went home alright.
- The Top 10 Dog Health Problems (everydayhealth.com)
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