An urgent warning for pet owners in New York and Washington DC has been released after a spike in a deadly dog virus.
Dog owners have been cautioned about parvovirus, often referred to as parvo — a highly-contagious disease which can be fatal for canines.
New York health officials released an alert which said the Animal Care Centers (ACC) had diagnosed 14 dogs as of March 14, with the majority in puppies and younger dogs in Bronx and Manhattan facilities.
And a shelter in Missouri has seen a sharp rises in cases in puppies, with some vets seeing five or six ill dogs a day. The uptick has been attributed to the warmer weather.
In 2021 there was a surge in parvo cases in dogs in the UK and 45 percent of registered owners were found not to be keeping up with key vaccinations.
Veterinarian Dr Hannah Lau told WNBC: ‘Any breed of dog can become sick from parvovirus, but Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, English Spring Spaniels, and German Shepherds may see an increased risk’
Vets at the non-profit had seen several parvo cases in just 24 hours.
ACC’s senior vice president of Animal Health & Welfare, Dr Robin Brennen, said: ‘We normally see a limited number of parvo cases in any given year.
‘But in 2023 we have already seen so many cases and that number continues to rise.’
The Centers advised dog owners to get their pets vaccinated to curb the spread of the virus.
Parvo causes acute gastrointestinal illness and, in rare instances, myocarditis, in dogs.
It does not infect humans. In dogs, the most common symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite.
Parvo spreads via contact with infected feces and kills 90 percent of infected pets if left untreated.
But with proper treatment, including through fluids, antiemetics, antibiotics, and nutritional support, 90 percent of dogs recover.
Any unvaccinated canine is at risk, but puppies between six and 20 weeks old are at more likely to fall ill.
Symptoms tend to appear within five to seven days of exposure. The first warning signs may be lethargy, lack of appetite and fever.
These may quickly turn into vomiting and hemorrhagic diarrhea (blood in feces), but a quarter of infected dogs might have have non-hemorrhagic diarrhea.
Dogs shed the virus into their feces even before they are showing symptoms.
The ACC recommends that dog owners ensure their pet’s parvo vaccination is up to date.
Owners should also not let their dog touch other dogs’ feces.
Kansas City Pet Project in Missouri has an isolated Parvo ward, since the bug spreads so easily.
Tori Fugate, the Pet Project’s spokesperson, said the shelter has 12 puppies infected with parvo, which is higher than normal.
Rachel Lunsford, an urgent care tech at Pet Resource Center of Kansas City, told WDAF: ‘Parvo is something you can never tell if they’re going to make it or not.’
She added: ‘We see two to three parvo cases every day. There’s some days where I can see five or six.’
Veterinarian Dr Hannah Lau told WNBC: ‘Young, unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk of parvovirus.
‘Any breed of dog can become sick from parvovirus, but Rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, American Pit Bull Terriers, English Spring Spaniels, and German Shepherds may see an increased risk.’