Veterinarians and dog owners in Northwest Arkansas are dealing with a seriously dangerous outbreak.
Canine Parvovirus is a virus that spreads when dogs come in contact with the feces of an infected dog. The virus enters the bloodstream and causes inflammation in the intestines that leads to bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and eventual dehydration. For young puppies and dogs with compromised immune systems, coming down with Parvo can be fatal.
While dangerous, most veterinarians treat only a few cases of Parvo every few weeks. A widely accepted vaccination and awareness about the virus help keep it in check, but a recent outbreak in Arkansas is changing the game.
Arkansas Matters reports that an unprecedented uptick in Parvo cases is sweeping across the state. Animal hospitals and veterinary offices are doing everything they can and using all their resources to save lives and stop more animals from being infected.
Dr. Taylor Rolland from Wedington Animal Hospital told the local news that Parvo is "truly spreading like wildfire." The clinic has seen more cases of the virus in the last two weeks than they usually do in six months. He said:
"We've had probably 26 to 27 cases int he last two weeks of Parvo alone, which is crazy. During even the summer months we usually might see Parvo once a week."
One of the reasons why Parvo is especially contagious is due to the strength and resiliency of the virus. While most diseases die without a proper host, Parvo can live in an area for up to 10 years. That means if a dog infected with Parvo visited your favorite dog park a decade ago, every pup that walks through the gate is at risk of being infected.
There is an effective vaccine for Parvo usually administered to puppies as part of their core vaccines between six and 16 weeks old. It's expensive, however, and some new puppy owners opt out, or they neglect to come back for the necessary boosters. Veterinarians warn that without the vaccine, puppies are at risk of contracting the virus every time they step outside. If they're infected, treatment can cost up to $1,500, and there's no guarantee it will save the sick dog's life.
The reason behind the sudden outbreak of Parvo in Arkansas will likely remain a mystery, but veterinary experts are urging dog owners to take extra precautions. It isn't only unvaccinated puppies that are at risk, adult dogs are also being diagnosed. If you're concerned about your dog's health, don't hesitate to contact your local vet's office.
Has your dog received a Parvo vaccination? What do you think of this Parvo outbreak? Let us know in the comments.
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