Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease for dogs which is characterized by vomiting, bloody diarrhea and high mortality rate. The virus was first described in the early 1970 and due to the small size of the viral particles it was named,,Minute virus of canine”.
This disease affects all members of the canine family(fox, coyote, wolf) but the most sensible to the virus are puppies that range from the age of 6 weeks to 6 months.
The virus is very stable in the environment especially when it is embedded in feces, being able to withstand wide pH ranges and temperatures. It can survive up to 2 weeks at 37 degrees Celsius and over 6 months at 4 degrees Celsius. Some breeds have a higher risk for this disease for example the Rottweiler, German Shepherds, American Pitt Bull Terriers and the Doberman Pinschers.
The disease is transmitted by oral contact with contaminated feces and fomites(cloths, food, water, bedding).It can also be transmitted intrauterine to pups due to the virus capacity to cross the placental barrier.
There are 2 types of parvovirus, one that affects the digestive system(gastroenteritis) and one that affects the heart(myocarditis)
a)Gastroenteritis can infect all dog breeds of all ages. Symptoms appear after an incubation period of 7-14 days. Signs include: vomiting, bloody diarrhea with a foul smell, fever, weakness, dehydration and depression.
b)Myocarditis is rarely seen and occurs in puppies that have been infected in utero. Signs include: tachycardia, progressive cardiac insufficiency, cyanosis, weakness and even sudden death without any signs
The disease is diagnosed by an evaluation of the clinical signs and is confirmed through an Elisa fecal test or hemagglutination test. Also an electron microscope can be used to confirm the diagnose.
Unfortunately there is no specific cure. Antibiotics will be used to fight off secondary infections, IV fluid therapy to counter dehydration and different treatments to control diarrhea and vomiting. Also Vitamin A(anti-infective) and K(hemostatic) must be administered Food and water will be withhold until the vomiting has been reduced.
The most important step in order to keep your dog healthy and protected is to make sure he is vaccinated in time. The vaccination should start around the age of 6 weeks and repeated every 3-4weeks until the age of 16-20 weeks.
Contaminated areas should be cleaned using household bleach(1:30 diluted) or other products. Isolate sick animals and get them checked by the vet.