Parvovirus prompts vaccination plea

20:07, Dec 16 2013
Mark Wiseman
Poster pooch: Blenheim veterinarian Mark Wiseman give labrador Luke, 13, a health check

An outbreak of the fatal dog disease parvovirus has prompted a Blenheim veterinarian to urge people to have their pooches vaccinated.

Mark Wiseman, of The Vet Centre in Redwood St, said the vaccine was 100 per cent guaranteed to protect dogs against the nasty disease.

In the past fortnight the practice had treated six puppies, from three properties, with parvovirus and one died on Thursday night.

Normally he would see about one case every three months.

"If you're walking your dog up and down somewhere like the Taylor River [in Blenheim] they are undoubtedly coming in contact with parvovirus," he said.

"Whether they get infected or not depends on the number of viral particles taken in."


The highly contagious disease was very painful, destroying the dog's gut lining and often causing blood poisoning, Mr Wiseman said. About 75 per cent of infected dogs survived if treated with intravenous fluid, anti-vomiting medicine, pain relief and antibiotics at a cost of $500-$1000.

Left untreated, most died.

Puppies were especially susceptible to parvovirus but adult dogs could also get sick, Mr Wiseman said. Infected dogs would become very lethargic and could not keep their food down.

Parvovirus could be eliminated if everyone took their puppies to a vet for vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks old, then monthly until 16 weeks, costing $210-$280, Mr Wiseman said. Booster shots were recommended a year later, then every three years at least.

Parvovirus was very common in the environment, year-round, he said. However, infections often came in clusters, possibly because of the number of puppies around.

Vet nurse Caroline Simpson said the clinic tried very hard to save puppies with the disease.

Until puppies were fully vaccinated at 12 weeks, their owners should keep them away from dogs which had not been given parvovirus shots, she said.