COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Three puppies on the adoption floor at the Franklin County Dog Shelter were diagnosed with canine parvovirus last week. The puppies were immediately removed from the shelter and are expected to recover. Shelter officials tell NBC4 they believe they were isolated cases and not indicative of an outbreak.
“Although we take parvovirus cases seriously due to the aggressive nature of the disease, it is not considered an emergency to have dogs test positive for the disease,” said Melanie DeHaan, DVM and Director, SOS. “We have procedures in place to protect the general population and prevent outbreaks.”
DeHaan says cases of parvo are fairly common, but shelter employees usually spot the virus before the dogs reach the adoption floor.
“Any time a puppy comes in and has diarrhea, parvo’s going to be your big rule out – because that is the most critical cause of diarrhea in puppies,” DeHaan said.
The shelter issued the following statement:
“Because of the highly contagious nature of the virus, we follow strict procedures to prevent the disease from entering the shelter and to contain any suspected cases. All dogs are vaccinated at intake. Any symptomatic dog is tested for parvovirus. Dogs that test positive are immediately isolated and then removed from the shelter to prevent it from spreading to other healthy dogs.”
The disease is spread from one dog to another through contact with contaminated fecal matter. The virus is very difficult to kill and can survive in the environment for 7 to 9 months.
Dr. DeHaan says puppies should receive a series of vaccinations in their first 4 months to build up their immunity to the disease.
“If you adopt a puppy, even if they’ve had a vaccine here, it is so important that you take them and maintain that series until they’re 16 weeks of age before you take them to the dog park or take them anywhere in public because they are still susceptible to the virus until fully vaccinated,” DeHaan said.
The shelter statement says that “while parvovirus is not curable, dogs can survive it if symptoms are caught early and aggressive supportive veterinary care is provided immediately. The shelter has successfully treated many cases over the years at an off-site infirmary where dogs can remain in isolation and receive the necessary medical care required over several weeks until they are fully recovered and free of the virus.”