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Officials concerned about increased number of parvovirus cases

By Staff | May 13, 2010

Officials from Lee County Domestic Animal Services and local veterinarian clinics have reported more cases of parvovirus.
This highly contagious, often fatal, virus is spread through direct or in-direct contact with an infected dog’s feces. Symptoms typically include severe diarrhea and subsequent dehydration.
Ria Brown, spokesperson for Lee County Domestic Animal Services, reported that field officers and staff at clinics such as P.A.W.S. Lee County have seen more cases of infected dogs throughout the county.
“It is serious,” said Brown. “It’s easily preventable but it’s an extremely contagious disease.”
In many cases, the virus is spread in public areas where dogs are in contact with each other and feces, such as dog parks. But this specific outbreak is in Cape Coral, North Fort Myers and across Lee County, and not at one specific park or location.
Under the right conditions, parvovirus can survive up to five months in one location, such as a patch of grass, or on inanimate objects like clothing or food pans.
Brown said dog owners typically panic when they hear about a parvovirus outbreak, but as long as their dogs are vaccinated and they practice good hygiene, there is nothing to worry about.
“We really need to get the word out before it becomes something we need to worry about,” she said.
Theresa Ink, owner of P.A.W.S. Lee County, a low-cost clinic in North Fort Myers which partners with LCDAS, said she has received six calls about parvovirus in one weekend. Many of these callers have never brought their dogs to a veterinarian or had them vaccinated.
“A lot of the ones I saw last week were animals they never took to the veterinarian,” she said.
A majority of the clinic’s services are providing low-cost spay and neutering to the community, but Ink said they’ve been getting more requests to help parvo-infected animals.
She explained that low-cost clinics typically provide the shot for $10 per year and $30 for puppies. Younger dogs need more than one shot because they may be lacking maternal antibodies.
Out of the infected dogs who’ve come to P.A.W.S. Lee County for help, some have died from the virus and others were fortunate enough to survive. Once in the clinic, the treat the dogs with fluids, she said, and hope it’s not too late to save them.
“As long as you do it early, if you wait to the end it is much harder,” said Ink.
Brown said the shot for parvovirus can be bundled up with other vaccinations like distemper, and that dog owners should check with their veterinarians to find out if they’ve had the vaccine.
For more information on proper pet care, visit www.leelostpets.org.