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City of Bloomington Animal Shelter Cautions Against Parvovirus

City of Bloomington Animal Shelter Cautions Against Parvovirus

Date of Record: August 7, 2006

August 7, 2006

For more information, contact:
Laurie Ringquist, Director, Animal Care and Control, City of Bloomington, 349.3492
Maria K. Heslin, Communications Director, City of Bloomington, 349.3569

Bloomington, IN -- Members of the public who have visited the City of Bloomington Animal Shelter recently should be aware that parvovirus has been detected in several puppies that arrived at the shelter between July 15 and July 25.

Parvo is a life-threatening, gastrointestinal, viral disease in dogs that most commonly affects puppies. It is extremely contagious to other dogs and strikes rapidly and without warning. Symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, fever and diarrhea. It is NOT contagious to people or cats.

According to experts, parvo can occur in any unvaccinated dog. The virus can be brought home to your dog on shoes, hands and even car tires. It can live for many months outside the animal.

While there is no cure for parvo (or any virus), it is estimated that 80 percent of puppies treated for parvovirus will live; without treatment, probably 80 percent or more of infected puppies will die. Treatment includes giving fluids, regulating electrolyte levels, controlling body temperature and giving blood transfusions when necessary.

There are several precautions you should take to prevent parvo and to minimize the chances of spreading the disease to any dogs you may come in contact with:

"Unfortunately, parvovirus is inevitable in a shelter environment, as new dogs enter the building every day with unknown vaccination histories," said Laurie Ringquist, Director of Animal Care and Control, the City division that managers the animal shelter. "It is passed from one dog to another by contact with infected feces. Dogs can be carriers and show no clinical signs but be able to pass the virus causing other dogs to become infected." 

The shelter has had four litters of puppies test positive for parvovirus, resulting in the euthanasia of eight puppies. Additionally, one puppy that was being treated died, and another is being treated at a veterinary clinic. Shelter staff is working hard to contain the illness at the shelter.

The first case at the shelter was identified last week. The shelter immediately began implementation of special cleaning and animal-handling protocols. All areas of the shelter have been bleached multiple times, in an attempt to kill the virus and stop its spread.

Access to handling dogs and puppies by volunteers and the public has been restricted. Although dogs will continue to be accepted at the shelter, the public should be aware of the risks of infection. Staff asks that if people can postpone relinquishment of their pet for a few days, it would help ease the situation at the shelter.

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