Alarm over killer dog virus outbreak

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 05:00 05/04/2014

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An outbreak dog-killing disease parvovirus has struck Porirua and Tawa, with some vets calling it the worst they have seen for nearly a decade.

The highly contagious virus causes acute vomiting and diarrhoea, and can kill dogs if it's left untreated.

Rappaw Tawa head vet Rose Penberthy said she had not seen an outbreak so severe in the eight years she had been been at the clinic.

She said there had been 42 cases seen at the Rappaw clinics and nearby CareVets in the past six weeks, far more than she could remember in the past.

The cases began in central Porirua about a month ago, and had since spread to Porirua East, Titahi Bay and Tawa.

Outbreaks have also been reported in Marlborough and Whanganui in the past six weeks.

The Rappaw Tawa clinic had put down about five dogs suffering from the virus - in some cases because treatment costs, starting at about $800, were too expensive.

"That's the most frustrating thing about it - there's a very good vaccination that dogs should have as puppies . . . it costs $63."

The outbreak was likely to have begun with a dog from outside the area, but would have spread easily because of the number of wandering dogs in Porirua.

CareVets New Zealand chief executive Nick Cooper said its Porirua and Tawa clinics had been seeing about a case a day last week, when they would usually see about 12 in a year.

"It's so easily preventable, and people just aren't getting it done. It can be $1000, $1500 to fix it, or death . . . and it's an ugly death."

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- The Dominion Post

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