Shelter sees increase in parvo cases

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Chica, an 8-month-old American bulldog, wears a protective cone around her neck and is hooked to an IV to help her recover from parvovirus at the Curry County Animal Hospital.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A recent increase in parvovirus cases among dogs has animal professionals stressing the importance of vaccinations.

Clovis Animal Control officer Martin Martinez said the shelter began seeing a spike in sick dogs around January and have averaged two to three cases a week.

The virus — marked by vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, fever and loss of appetite — is highly contagious among dogs and can be fatal if untreated, especially in younger dogs.

At the shelter, dogs sick with the virus have to be euthanized because of the care involved in making them well and because it is so contagious.

Martinez said the presence of parvo at the shelter throws staff into a rigorous disinfecting regimen to prevent contamination to other animals.

But sometimes dogs are in the early incubation stages of the disease when they arrive and the illness doesn’t show itself until a few days have passed.

This week the number of cases seems to have tapered off, but last week five dogs came into the shelter with parvo, Martinez said.

“Last week we were having to keep the pound disinfected completely and we’re watching the animals that are coming in real careful,” Martinez said. “(During parvo outbreaks) our janitorials skyrocket.”

Martinez said the bottom line for stopping parvo is vaccinations, and a majority of animals going into the shelter have no vaccination history.