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Increase in Canine Parvovirus Cases Calls for Vigilance

Parvo – referred to by many as the "puppy-killer" – appears to be on the rise throughout the Seattle area.

Perhaps a death after a recent Pet Expo at the Puyallup Fairgrounds was a predictive event, but no matter where the increase was first noted, Parvo--referred to by many as the "puppy-killer"--appears to be on the rise throughout the area.

Back in early November, one of the dogs that attended a pet expo in Puyallup died of Parvovirus, according to the America's Family Pet Expo’s Facebook page.

Many other Puget Sound areas have reported increasing numbers of dogs becoming ill with the virus, which attacks the lining of the digestive system, causing severe fever, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea in pets, including due to the increasing incidence of the illness. Young dogs that haven't received their full three doses of vaccinations are particularly vulnerable, though an increased number of cases have been reported in fully vaccinated animals as well.

The reason for the dog park closures in some areas is that Parvo is also highly contagious, and wet winter conditions facilitates spread of the disease, which is spread mainly by contact with the feces of infected dogs--whether directly or if it comes home on your shoes, for example. It can take 7-10 days from exposure for a pet to become ill, and treatment can be very expensive, the Seattle Times reports.

The Edmonds Parks and Recreation Director, Carrie Hite, recommended the following, though parks in Edmonds remained open: "If your dog has been ill, or showing any unusual signs, please keep your dog at home and seek veterinary care. The canine parvo virus is highly contagious and dangerous, especially to young dogs."

If you're not sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, check with your veterinarian, and if your dog is at risk, you might want to avoid dog parks.

The recommendation for parvovirus vaccinations (CPV) is at 8, 12, and about 16 weeks of age for puppies; a booster at one year; and boosters every three years thereafter.

The website WorkingDogs.com offers additional information on the disease, and effective ways to combat its spread.

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