Nursing assistant Jaque le Roux with puppy Faith and Pallo Gigi. Tracy Adams African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Dog owners are encouraged to be on high alert as a Canine Parvovirus (CPV) outbreak has been reported.

Allan Perrins, from the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa confirmed that they had strong evidence to suggest that the potentially fatal virus was spreading.

Perrins said initially the virus was confined to the De Waal Park area of Cape Town CBD and limited to a tragic isolated incident.

“It has regrettably spread to a number of other neighbourhoods in the southern suburbs,” he said.

Dog owners are advised to look out for worrying signs that include diarrhoea (gastro type symptoms), listlessness, loss of appetite and lethargy. Any dog or puppy displaying any of the above negative symptoms should be seen by a vet without delay.

Owners are urged to vaccinate their dogs as soon as possible and avoid taking their pets for walks.

Dr John McMullen, from the Forest Drive Veterinary Practice in Pinelands, said: “Last week, our car park was full of people in cars with animals on drips. We probably had between 10 and 20 patients and they have to come in on a daily basis. We also had to order 100 parvo tests and those are the tests we use to check if it is the disease.”

The snap-test can quickly confirm whether or not the pet has the virus.

Perrins said the 10 to 20 cases they received every day was nothing exceptional. He said it was, however, the tragic norm.

“Pet owners should also be aware that the virus can survive for many months on an infected property and are strongly discouraged from acquiring another dog or puppy for at least six months,” Perrins added.

McMullen said there was no simple cure for this and continuous treatment is required for infected dogs.

“You have to give supportive treatment to the animal such as drips and antiemetics”, said McMullen.

The virus causes damage to a dog’s intestinal wall and increases the likelihood of a secondary infection. The virus could be fatal and McMullen confirmed that there was a current incident of a dog that was hospitalised due to this.

Pet owners are warned it could be contracted through a third-party in instances where an owner would have potentially stepped on something and brings the virus home. If the animal isn’t vaccinated, it is highly at risk.

“There are particular breeds that are more susceptible to it; like rottweilers, German shepherds and pitbulls.”

McMullen said the virus was not breed-specific.

Perrins said last year CPV claimed hundreds of dogs and puppies’ lives in the Garden Route, Khayelitsha and areas of the Cape Flats and required a “Herculean” effort to stop it from spreading and claiming more lives.

Weekend Argus