By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – The highly contagious parvovirus that affects dogs has been confirmed in a puppy in Cornwall.
Kari Brown told Seaway News that her 14-month-old male Collie-Labrador mix, named Able, contracted the viral disease.
She received the disturbing news after visiting the St. Lawrence Valley Animal Hospital on Tuesday around 7:30 p.m. The next day she started to spread the word on social media.
“I’m not sure where to post this, but I feel a responsibility to let people know,” Brown wrote on the SD&G SPCA’s Auction for Paw Paws Facebook page.
As a safety precaution, she urged pet owners to steer clear of Able’s stomping grounds: the south-west corner of the Walton Street and Lefebvre Avenue, in the city’s east-end.
In 2014, the contagious disease in dogs swept across the city keeping pet owners on high alert. One Cornwall animal hospital had reported seeing dozens of puppies with early symptoms of the virus.
“In general, there’s definitely a higher than usual amount of parvovirus cases in Cornwall,” said Dr. Ashley Virag of the St. Lawrence Valley Animal Hospital. “We’ve already had cases this winter and one as of lately, just last night.”
She described the disease as “lethal.”
“If you do have a dog that’s affected, be responsible to your community – don’t go to public areas like parks or sidewalks,” said Virag.
According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), parvovirus is a serious and potentially fatal condition that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and immune system of puppies and dogs, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea.
“I didn’t get my dog vaccinated and it was a huge mistake and negligent on my part. Now the love of my life is paying for it,” said Brown in another post.
During his recent visit to the animal clinic, Able received a shot and was given two different medications. The poor pup is currently under quarantine at home. To help with Able’s dehydration, Brown has had to boil ground beef, rice, and squash for his meals.
Virag encourages dog owners to start vaccinating their puppies at eight weeks of age. She noted that the required series of shots costs approximately $300. The veterinarian believes the city’s unemployment rate is reflected in the number of animals that cannot be treated due to “cost concerns.”
OVMA: Fast Facts
The parvovirus disease can also attack the hearts of very young puppies. The virus is highly contagious and spread through direct contact with infected dogs or infected feces. It is easily carried on hands, food dishes, leashes, shoes, etc. The virus is very stable in the environment and can survive for years in feces and soil through extremes of heat, cold, drought, or humidity. Though 85 to 90 per cent of treated dogs survive, the disease requires extensive supportive patient care and can be expensive to treat. In untreated dogs, the mortality rate can exceed 90 per cent.