Merced County Parvo Scare

October 20, 2008 9:40:08 PM PDT
Veterinarians in Merced County are warning dog owners about a recent spike in the cases of a deadly virus.Local vets say a new strain of parvovirus that was first seen in this country in the past few years is now making puppies and even some older dogs sick in Merced County.

But there are some simple steps that can help keep them healthy. Dr. William Bell saw at least half a dozen dogs infected with parvovirus in just one day alone last week.

Dr. William Bell, said, "It seems like probably in the last couple of weeks we've seen as many cases as we have in the past 6 months."

And that has dog owners, like Jackie Sims, worried.

Jackie Sims said, "It's very scary because especially when you have small dogs like we do, they go down like that, and it's done."

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that often causes vomiting and diarrhea and can turn deadly in a matter of hours. It's spread through contact with feces containing the virus, but vets say flies can also help spread the disease.

Julie Gallaway said, "He's an indoor dog, but we do take him outside to use the bathroom, so I do worry about the flies. Our walks have been limited, and that's about all we can do at this point is just keep them away from other animals and areas where people take their pets."

It's also crucial to have puppies vaccinated.

Dr. Bell said, "In your puppies starting between 6 and 8 weeks, they need to get vaccinated and checked over, they need vaccinations every 3 or 4 weeks until they're 4 months old."

Dr. Bell says it's difficult to tell whether people may be hesitant to pay for the vaccines because of tough economic times, but Julie Gallaway knows its well worth the price.

Gallaway said, "We don't want them to become ill, we certainly don't want them to become ill with something that may not be able to be taken care of, and it's an added expense that I don't think anybody can afford right now if you can prevent it."

One of the big problems with parvo is that the virus can stick around on inanimate objects for more than five months.

Vets recommend washing surfaces that could be contaminated with a mixture that's one part bleach and 30 parts water.

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