Dog Owners Warned About Deadly Virus Outbreak

Canine parvovirus infection, commonly known as parvo, is caused by a virus capable of surviving in the environment for months or even years

There's a push from the veterinary community to vaccinate pets properly, coming on the heels of the deaths of more than a dozen dogs in Lowell, Massachusetts, all infected with the same disease.

Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral infection. The disease can kill dogs if they're not treated right away with fluids and antibiotics.

Dr. Greg Wolfus, director of the Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic in Worcester, says it can be passed to dogs through the feces or vomit of an infected dog.

Parvovirus isn't rare. Wolfus says it's common for his clinic to see about a case a week. But it is preventable.

"Every time a dog comes to a veterinary clinic for a routine well-care, we would go ahead and vaccinate it for the parvovirus," said Wolfus.

The symptoms are obvious, including vommitting, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. If you notice symptoms, you're urged to contact a vet immediately.

Puppies are most susceptible to the disease, but any dog can be infected.

Wolfus says if the dog is given fluids and antibiotics right away, its chance of survival increases dramatically.

He says the death of 15 dogs in one city in a short period of time is not surprising.

"Unfortunately, that's exactly how parvovirus works," said Wolfus.

The virus does not affect people.

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