Parvovirus And Feline Enteritis


These are tough viruses from the same family, capable of surviving outside a dog or cat for quite some time. They are spread in contaminated faeces, entering the victim via the mouth when your pet does something as simple as licking its foot pads. Young puppies and kittens under 16 weeks old are prone to the most serious forms of these infections. The virus penetrates the tonsils and heads for fast multiplying cells such as those lining the intestines. In severe instances this leads to abdominal pain, lethargy, sometimes fever and always vomiting and diarrhea, sometimes bloody. Clinical shock induced by this damage can kill if a pet is not treated efficiently. Other individuals have milder signs, loose, bulky stools. (When parvovirus first occurred in dogs in 1979 many pups died suddenly of heart failure. This is now extremely rare.)


Identifying virus particles or virus antigens in a stool sample confirms diagnosis. Samples are analysed at local laboratories. There is a simple "In-house" antibody blood test but false negatives are common, because of maternal antibody or antibody from vaccination. Specialist labs offer a more definitive blood test. Depressed white blood cell counts occur in about one third of affected individuals.


Shock control is vital, including pain control and prevention of dehydration. Aggressive fluid therapy for dehydration and pain control will save most pets suffering from these infections. Antibiotics are frequently used to prevent secondary bacterial infection getting in the blood stream from the damaged intestines.


Because new strains of parvovirus are constantly evolving, vaccination gives excellent but not necessarily full protection. This depends on what strains are used by the vaccine manufacturer. As well, the antibodies pups inherit from their mothers are particularly troublesome for parvovirus vaccination.


Left alone these viruses can contaminate an environment for many months. It is resistant to many household cleaners but not to bleach. If your pet has had a parvovirus infection clean any areas contaminated by its faeces with bleach in a 1:16 solution. Apply it to the area for 15 minutes before rinsing.

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