Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that attacks the gastrointestinal tract of the dog. It is a very hardy virus, which can survive for 12 months or more in the environment. Special disinfectants are required to kill the virus. The virus is usually spread when dogs come into contact with contaminated faeces and soil.
Dog kennels, parks, showgrounds and nature strips are all major sources of infection. It is important to realise that dogs do not have to come into contact with other dogs to become infected with parvovirus.
After exposure to the virus, dogs will often develop a fever and may suffer severe abdominal pain, followed by profuse vomiting and diarrhoea (which often contains blood). A high mortality rate amongst infected puppies can be expected. Some dogs may survive depending on how quickly treatment is sought. Treatment usually involves intensive care for several days in a veterinary hospital, and can be very expensive however is not always successful.
It is important that all puppies commence a vaccination program from 6-8 weeks of age and that all adult dogs have their boosters.