Goonellabah Veterinary Hospital vet nurse Sarah Gerrard and veterinarian James Clarke-Williams prepare to vaccinate Pumpkin against canine parvovirus.
Goonellabah Veterinary Hospital vet nurse Sarah Gerrard and veterinarian James Clarke-Williams prepare to vaccinate Pumpkin against canine parvovirus. Jay Cronan

Virus outbreak strikes dogs

SEVEN dogs in one Goonellabah street are believed to have died from the parvovirus disease in the past week.

An outbreak of parvovirus at the change of season from spring to summer is not unusual, according to Lismore vet James Clarke-Williams of the Goonellabah Veterinary Hospital.

He has seen three dogs die from the disease in the past week, and has heard of seven others from Shearman Dr, Goonellabah.

In Ballina, Casino and Kyogle, vets have reported no unusual spike in the number of parvovirus cases.

But in Lismore, the dog pound was closed yesterday and healthy dogs were relocated to vets' surgeries while the facility was cleaned and decontaminated.

Senior ranger with Lismore council Joe Monks told The Northern Star: "We opened up part of the pound late yesterday, but only for emergency admissions.

"In the past week, there have been six dogs here with the virus - we don't know whether they caught it here or brought it in with them.

"It's heart-rending to see what the virus does to a dog.

"The message is: get your dogs vaccinated and don't let them roam free."

Mr Clarke-Williams said the virus was much easier to prevent than cure.

"Even a blank cheque is no guarantee we can cure it," he said.

"We are in a low socio-economic area here. If the owners can't afford to have them treated, the dogs have to be put down."

Mr Clarke-Williams said everything touched by an infected dog needed to be decontaminated.

"And if dogs die in the backyard, as some have in Goonellabah, it's not a good idea to bury them there because the virus will stay in the ground for up to a year."

 

Symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Foul smelling, bloody diarrhoea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe dehydration

 

Prevention of parvovirus

  • Vaccination from six weeks of age.
  • Then every three years for life.
  • Full coverage is effective seven days after vaccination.
  • Dobermans, rottweilers and pit bull terriers are particularly vulnerable.
  • Thorough disinfection wherever an infected animal has been
  • (use bleach at a dilution of 1:32).
  • If in contact with infected animal or its poo, decontaminate all clothing and footwear.

 

Treatments if infection occurs:

  • Fluid therapy to treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Antibiotics to prevent septicaemia and fight off secondary bacterial infection.
  • Blood transfusion.
  • Anti-nausea medication.
  • Pain medication in some cases.

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