Midstate vets seeing increase in parvovirus cases


NEW CUMBERLAND, Pa. (WHTM) – Parvovirus is a highly contagious and deadly disease that largely affects the most vulnerable dogs: puppies.

Dr. Shawna Houston, the medical director of VCA West Shore Animal Hospital, said she’s seen more cases than usual this summer, and she’s not alone.

After making calls to other clinics, shelters and hospitals, she’s said they’ve echoed her concerns.

“I hate seeing people take in new puppies and they’re already attached and then they have this dog that is really ill and potentially could die,” Houston said.

Parvovirus is a disease that’s no walk in the park.

“It basically shreds their entire [gastrointestinal tract], and it causes them to have really bad diarrhea and vomiting, and they look really lethargic,” Houston said.

Parvovirus is spread through fecal matter and dogs or surfaces exposed to the virus. Houston said summer is the ideal season for parvo to thrive because more dogs are out and about carrying the virus.

“They’re walking their new dogs. A lot of times they have new puppies this time of year, which is exciting, but they’re also walking unvaccinated pets,” Houston said.

Five-month-old Gus is fully vaccinated thanks to his owner, Zac Brady.

“They made it very clear it’s one of the easiest things to transmit, and it’s not a good scene when they have it,” Brady said.

Houston said anti-vaccination movements across the country have bled into the pet world, making more people reluctant.

“It is just not worth it because this virus will make your pet way more sick than any chance of a minor reaction to a vaccine will,” Houston said.

Depending on the age, three to four parvo shots are recommended for puppies starting between six to eight weeks.

Houston recommends staying away from dog parks until puppies have received the full round of vaccinations. Even then, she says, people should be cautious.

“It can last up in the environment for months to years unless it’s prevented by sunlight, and indoors it can be up to two months,” Houston said.

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