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District of Columbia Confirms Animal Cases of Canine Parvovirus

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Media Contact:       Marcus A. Williams | Director of Communications | (P) (202) 724-7481 | (E) [email protected]

Washington, DC - Through regular communications and surveillance activities with veterinary hospitals in the District of Columbia (DC), the DC Department of Health (DOH) has noted an increased number of canine parvovirus animal cases between June 2015 and October 2015. The city has confirmed 24 animal cases.

Canine parvovirus (commonly referred to as PARVO) is an illness most commonly affecting young puppies and older dogs not vaccinated for the disease. The illness affects only dogs and cannot be contracted by other animals or humans. Dogs are exposed to the virus when they come into contact with the vomit or feces of infected dogs. Canine parvovirus is preventable when recommended dog vaccination schedules are followed: a full list of recommended vaccinations and preventative health guidelines for animals can be found on the American Veterinary Medical Association website. Dog owners are also encouraged to regularly consult with a licensed veterinarian about their dogs’ comprehensive healthcare. 

Preventative measures to protect dogs from canine parvovirus include:

  • Establishing a relationship with a local veterinarian to discuss basic preventative healthcare practices for pets.
  • Discussing what frequency of vaccines is most appropriate for an individual dog.
    • Puppies have a series of parvovirus vaccinations, which typically begin at six weeks of age, followed by booster vaccines every three weeks until puppies are 12 weeks old.
    • Once dogs are one year old they typically receive parvovirus booster vaccines every one-to-three years for life. 
  • Cleaning surfaces that contain dog vomit and/or feces using diluted household bleach (four ounces of bleach mixed with one gallon of water).
  • Seeking treatment and evaluation for any sick dogs as quickly as possible.

Canine parvovirus is an enterovirus and attacks the cells in the gastrointestinal system. It can survive in any environment for over six months unless properly disinfected. When puppies and dogs become sick with parvovirus they may become fatigued. This is followed by a lack of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea (often containing blood). This can result in severe dehydration and secondary infections throughout the body.

Should a puppy or dog display these signs, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Canine parvovirus is treatable if it is detected early but often fatal if no treatment is sought. Once a dog recovers from a parvovirus infection, they remain immune to the virus for the rest of their life.

For more information on canine parvovirus visit the American Veterinary Medical Association website or call the DOH Animal Services Program at (202) 724-8813 or (202) 442-9143 between the hours of 8:15 am and 4:45 pm.