Canine Parvovirus

Parvovirus CPV2 that infects dogs is a relatively new disease that first appeared in the late 1970s. Parvo is reported to not cause disease in cats, however, it is sometimes detected in raccoons and mink. Canine parvovirus has recently been detected in free-ranging bears in Maryland, the reason for its inclusion on this list of potential vector borne diseases.

It is not known if ticks can harbor and transmit the virus to pets and humans after feeding on infected animals, however, it has been advised this possibility be thoroughly evaluated in the near future.

The virus is extremely hardy and can survive in feces and in the soil for over a year. It also survives extremely cold and hot temperatures.

Prevention is the only way to ensure that animals remain healthy because the disease is extremely contagious. Vaccines are available and are highly recommended.

Symptoms- Dogs usually show symptoms within 3 to 7 days. The first sign is lethargy. Following the lethargy is loss of appetite or diarrhea and vomiting. The diarrhea and vomiting result in dehydration. Secondary infections can become involved at this stage, and the white blood cell count is reduced.

Due to dehydration, the dog's electrolyte balance can become seriously affected. Once the intestinal lining is compromised, blood and protein can leak into the intestines. This can lead to anemia and loss of protein, and cause endotoxins to enter the bloodstream. Dogs can have a distinctive odor in the later stages of the infection. Any or all of these signs and symptoms can lead to shock and death.

Diagnosis- A Parvo test should be given as early as possible if it is suspected in order to begin early treatment and increase survival rate. Diagnosis is made through detection of CPV2 in the feces by either an ELISA or a hemagglutination test, or by electron microscopy. PCR has become available to diagnose CPV2, and can be used later in the disease when potentially less virus is being shed in the feces that may not be detectable by ELISA.

Treatment- Dogs with this disease require intensive veterinary management. Hospital intervention is essential to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Intravenous fluids and medications to control vomiting and diarrhea are often required. More severe cases may require blood plasma transfusions and other intensive care.

Survival rate depends on how quickly Parvo is diagnosed, the age of the dog and how aggressive the treatment is. Treatment also consists of crystalloid IV fluids and/or colloids, antinausea injections and broad-spectrum antibiotic injections.

Prevention- Thoroughly clean and disinfect the quarters of infected animals. Parvo is an extremely hardy virus that resists most household cleaners and survives for months. The most effective disinfectant is household bleach in a 1:32 dilution. The bleach must be left on the contaminated surface for 20 minutes before being rinsed.

For More Information:

Canine Parvovirus

Wiki- Canine Parvovirus

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J Wildl Dis. 2014 Jul 30. [Epub ahead of print]

Serosurvey For Selected Pathogens In Free-Ranging American Black Bears (Ursus americanus) In Maryland, USA.

Bronson E1, Spiker H, Driscoll CP.

Abstract American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Maryland, USA, live in forested areas in close proximity to humans and their domestic pets. From 1999 to 2011, we collected 84 serum samples from 63 black bears (18 males; 45 females) in five Maryland counties and tested them for exposure to infectious, including zoonotic, pathogens. A large portion of the bears had antibody tocanine distemper virus and Toxoplasma gondii, many at high titers. Prevalences of antibodies to zoonotic agents such as rabies virus and to infectious agents of carnivores including canine adenovirus and canine parvovirus were lower. Bears also had antibodies to vector-borne pathogens common to bears and humans such as West Nile virus, Borrelia burgdorferi, Rickettsia rickettsiae, and Anaplasma phagocytophilum. Antibodies were detected to Leptospira interrogans serovars Pomona, Icterohaemorrhagiae, Canicola, Grippotyphosa, and Bratislava. We did not detect antibodies to Brucella canis or Ehrlichia canis. Although this population of Maryland black bears demonstrated exposure to multiple pathogens of concern for humans and domesticated animals, the low levels of clinical disease in this and other free-ranging black bear populations indicate the black bear is likely a spillover host for the majority of pathogens studied. Nevertheless, bear populations living at the human-domestic-wildlife interface with increasing human and domestic animal exposure should continue to be monitored because this population likely serves as a useful sentinel of ecosystem health.

Last Updated- April 2019

Lucy Barnes