By Palmyra Animal Clinic, Mar 20 2015 02:31PM
"Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life- threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog's body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problem" (http://pets.webmd .com/dogs/parvo-parvovirus-dogs)
Parvovirus is one of those things that everyone has heard of and no one can really tell you what it is. It's one that if you asked a hundred people, fifty would say it was curable and fifty would say it was a death sentence. They would all be right. Depending on the dog's immune system and the owner's finances, a diagnosis of parvo could go either way.
Some symptoms include (but are not limited to) bloody diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and abdominal pain. The treatment for parvo is the treatment for the symptoms as no antiviral has been developed that can combat with the virus once it's living in a host. Diagnosis is done in a vet's office with an Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test. This takes about 15 minutes, though, due to the possibility of a false positive or false negative, and the fact that parvo is life threatening, your vet may ask for additional blood work and tests to verify and be sure.
Costs for treatment can range from $1000 to over $3000. That may seem like a lot, and a large gap, but on the low end it's accounting for 5 days in ICU treatment and the bare minimal medications that would be necessary. At the higher end of the estimate is a dog with complications; a dog that will need surgery to have parts of its bowel and/or intestine removed.
Parvo can be a lot simpler than you think. Picture this: a bird is hopping along the forest floor looking for breakfast and lands on a spot that was once defecated on by a dog that had parvo. (This could have happened last week, or last month. Parvo is incredibly resilient and can live in the environment for months.) The bird grabs the worm and happily munches while flying to your backyard where you have a conveniently placed birdbath. Washing the mud from its feet, it fluffs itself while you watch on from the kitchen window drinking your coffee. The twilling sound of birds and the splashing that ensues wakes lazy bones puppy up who then runs to the back door begging to be let out. You oblige and puppy happily chases birds around the yard, sneaking a drink out of the birdbath when you smiled and turned around to fix your own breakfast. Your dog was just exposed to parvo.
This isn't meant to be a message of doom and gloom, just a warning and spreading of awareness. According to the records kept by Banfield Pet Hospital the national average of Canine Parvovirus are 34 cases in ten thousand and Pennsylvania is at 12 cases in ten thousand. Most of our neighbors are similar, however Ohio is higher than the national average at 35 cases in ten thousand. (http://www.stateofpethealth.com/state-of- _pet-health/disease/trends/PA)