Canine Parvovirus enteritis is a fatal and highly contagious disease of puppies, dogs and wild canids. It’s caused by Canine Parvovirus type-2. The virus attacks the Gastro-intestinal system, the Bone marrow and the Immune system (a multisystemic infection). In very young puppies the virus also damages the heart muscles (myocarditis). This cardiac form of the disease is rare due to Vaccinations.
In my little experience in vet practice the virus has a very high mortality in puppies less than 4 months of age, i have encountered a 100% mortality in a litter even with aggressive medical treatment and care.
The disease causes high losses especially in dog breeders and contributes to the fading puppy syndrome. The development of the disease in vaccinated puppies can be attributed to interference of the vaccine by the maternal antibodies, poor handling and also timing of the of the vaccination age.
The virus is highly contagious and spread through direct contact with infected dogs or faeces. The virus contaminates the environment, equipments or people that have come into contact with infected dogs. It is is very stable and can persist in the environment for upto or over a year.
The initial clinical signs of the infection in puppies are lethergy, anorexia (puppy refuses food) vomiting and diarrhoea which may be bloody and is foul smelling, the puppy also develops a high fever.
The acute vomiting and diarrhea causes a rapid dehydration and dead usually occur 48-72 hours following the onset of clinical signs – in untreated cases.
To control the occurrence of the disease; vaccinate your puppies against the virus, puppies are vaccinated at the age of between 6-8 weeks old. You need a vet to vaccinate and routinely check on the puppies; isolate sick puppies from other puppies until recovery and of course call the vet asap; impose strict biosecurity and sanitary measures in the kennels, disinfect the kennels with sodium hypochlorite, construct separate maternity kennel for whelping and raising the puppies till weaning then disinfect it and transfer the puppies and the mother to a separate kennel.
Dr. Ngetich (BVM UoN)