“We picked up one puppy from the Sankey/Elmwood Park that was displaying symptoms of the parvovirus and later tested positive,” said Colusa County Chief Animal Control Officer, Courtney Elliott.
The Sankey/Elmwood Park is located at the corner of 3rd and Parkhill Streets in Colusa.
Days later, another puppy was found and was turned into the animal shelter.
“A resident turned in another puppy from the same area that appeared to be a sibling of the first puppy,” said Officer Elliott, “We tested him for the virus, and he, too, was positive for parvovirus.”
Since both animals were found in the area of the Sankey/Elmwood Park, Animal Control Officials quickly notified the City of Colusa which placed warning signs around the park notifying of the possible outbreak.
“Because the one puppy was displaying symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, we are certain that there are high levels of the virus in the park,” said Elliott.
Canine parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted to any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog’s feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet, and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in areas where there are many dogs.
“With California experiencing one of the most severe droughts on record, the recent rain and soil disturbances can cause an outbreak,” said Officer Elliott.
Colusa County Animal Control Officer, Pam DaGrossa commented that in recent months, the office has known two litters of puppies, one in Colusa and one in Maxwell, where the entire litter died due to parvovirus.
For now, Animal Control officials are recommending the public to keep a close eye on their pets if they have been exposed to the infected area and to keep their pet vaccinations up to date.
“Timing is key,” said Officer Elliott, “Not all puppies respond to the vaccination and the right number of shots at the right time is key to prevention.”
However, Officer Elliott commented that even though a pet is current on all vaccinations, some dogs can still contract the virus.
“We had a case where a 5-year-old terrier contracted the virus,” said Officer Elliott, “Even when you think your dog is low risk, it is still at risk.”
General symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, loss of appetite, severe vomiting, and bloody diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.
Symptoms of parvovirus often appear 10 to 14 days after infection.
“If your puppy is not being a normal playful puppy and seems to be experiencing the symptoms of parvovirus, call your veterinarian right away,” said Officer Elliott.
Parvovirus is not curable, however, Officer Elliott commented that if the virus is caught early, new medicines can help the dog survive the infection.
Sadly, the grim result of parvovirus is often the death of the animal.
“The best prevention is to make sure your dog is up-to-date on all of its vaccinations,” said Officer DaGrossa.