For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Updated: 08/18/2009 10:37:58 AM EDT
A veterinary hospital in southern York County has experienced an increase in patients infected with a deadly contagious canine disease.
Tiffany Main, practice manager at Patton Veterinary Hospital in Red Lion, said veterinarians in the past two months have dealt with five positive cases of canine parvovirus. "Whenever we see an increase of a contagious virus we notify the (Pennsylvania) Department of Agriculture," she said, "If you see multiple cases, you want to get the word out there."
In addition to contacting the state agency, the hospital released a public service announcement concerning the increase parvovirus' cases. The parvovirus cases seen by Patton Veterinary Hospital hasn't been linked to a source, Main said.
Typically, when infected dogs are treated at the hospital, the disease is traced back to a certain point such as a breeder or a kennel, Main said.
Though a puppy that had been treated for the virus at Shiloh Veterinary Hospital recently died, Dr. Tom Schaeberle said he doesn't think there's a full-on outbreak of the disease.
Schaeberle owns Shiloh Veterinary Hospital in Manchester and Dover townships.
"I don't think it's an epidemic," he said.
More cases tend to crop up over the summer months since dogs are in more contact with each other.
Symptoms of the virus include loss of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea.
The infection destroys the lining of a dog's intestinal tract causing little or no food or liquids to be absorbed, according the Patton Veterinary Hospital service announcement.
The illness is found mainly in puppies, however, older, unvaccinated dogs can pick up the disease.
The virus can be spread by direct contact with an infected dog, contact with contaminated feces or vomit, and a contaminated environment.
Humans can transport the disease, though it's not possible for a person to contract the illness, Schaeberle said.
The best way to avoid the disease is to vaccinate puppies, he said.
A regimen of vaccines can be administrated to puppies as young as 8 weeks old.
"It's a tough virus," Schaeberle said. "It can really hang on in the right conditions."
Here are a few tips on how to prevent you pet from becoming infected with canine parvovirus.