Deadly dog virus on the rise in SWFL

CREATED Jan. 29, 2014

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LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A Four in Your Corner medical alert to protect your pets from a potentially deadly virus sweeping Southwest Florida.  

The Parvovirus is on the rise in Lee County. 
 
Lee County Domestic Animal Services says there has been a spike in puppies and young adult dogs with the virus coming into the shelter and local emergency clinics. 
 
Once dogs get it, the affects can be deadly. 
 
But, it turns out something so deadly can be avoided altogether with a low cost vaccine.  
 
"He likes to antagonize dogs into chasing him," said Dan Carney who takes his dog Jack to the Rotary Park Dog Park in Cape Coral daily. "He just loves to run."
 
Right now, the dog park could be a dangerous place in Lee County.
 
"One of the biggest places that we worry is dog parks because we don't know, are they, is everybody vaccinated?" said Dr. Tara Boozer, associate veterinarian at Kindness Animal Hospital. 
 
Dr. Boozer is talking about the Parvovirus.
 
"How serious is it?" asked reporter Kelli Stegeman. 
 
"Very serious," replied Dr. Boozer. 
 
The virus mainly attacks the intestines of puppies and young dogs. It's spread through fecal matter. 
 
"About day 5 to day 7 is when they start not feeling well and not really wanting to eat or drink and then they start having diarrhea and vomiting," Dr. Boozer said. 
 
Parvo thrives in places where there are a lot of dogs. Those places include shelters, the beach and dog parks. 
 
"It's a very, very hearty virus," explained Dr. Boozer. "Bleach kills it and that's about the only thing that fully does." 
 
"One of the good things with the park district is you have to provide proof of vaccinations before you can get a pass to come into the park," said Carney. "That's very reassuring." 
 
The best thing for Jack is to keep him regularly vaccinated against Parvo and hope other owners do the same. 
 
"We keep an eye on everybody else's dog," Carney said. "If somebody's dog looks like they're getting out of sorts, it's the topic of conversation."
 
Dr. Boozer says she's seen cases in adult dogs who are not properly vaccinated against Parvo. When they get the virus, it is usually much more severe. 
 
She says make sure your dog is regularly vaccinated. If they aren't, avoid the places there are a lot of dogs.   
 
You can get your dog vaccinated for as low as $10 at Lee County Animal Services.