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The deadly virus lurking in your favourite dog park

Parvo virus is on the rise warns The University of Queensland.
Parvo virus is on the rise warns The University of Queensland. sanjagrujic

THE deadly dog virus that's making a comeback can survive in the soil of your favourite dog park for up to two years, prompting vaccination warnings from vets.

A strain of parvovirus, previously identified as minor, is expanding across Australia according to The University of Queensland's School of Veterinary Science.

Dr Nicholas Clark said the virus, which was first detected in the 1970s, caused lethargy, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhoea.

"Dog owners should vaccinate their pets against this insidious infection, and anyone who suspects their dogs might have the disease should have them treated or hospitalised without delay," he said.

"We need ongoing monitoring programs to detect new variants and make informed recommendations to develop reliable detection and vaccine methods."

Dr Doug Gray of Nicklin Way Veterinary Surgery said over the past five years the centre has had three cases of parvovirus a year, with an entire litter of puppies once taken out by the illness.

Before that, he said they hadn't seen any.

"It's definitely making a comeback," Dr Gray said.

The spread of misinformation on the internet is "certainly" helping the rise according to Dr Gray, who said online sources tended to skew data "towards the really bad things", such as poor reactions to vaccinations.

"As a vet when you're doing a large number of vaccinations and see the incidence of reactions, it's very low," he said.

"And most of those reactions are very minor."

The belief dogs don't need as many vaccinations as previously thought is true, but that doesn't mean they need none at all said Dr Gray.

"Essentially that's true and we've realised our vaccinations for fatal disease like parvovirus tend to last at least three years," he said.

"But, when you get a puppy come in they'll often have no immunity to parvo so you still need to do those early vaccinations..."

Dr Gray warned the virus was "quite resistant" to environmental factors and could last two years in the soil where a dog infected by parvovirus may have defecated.

Topics:  animals anti-vaxx dogs editors picks parvovirus pets vaccinations vets


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