Virus claims canines

A parvovirus outbreak in the Vernon area that killed five dogs appears to be easing up.

A parvovirus outbreak in the Vernon area that killed five dogs appears to be easing up.

Locally, an estimated 20 dogs have been treated for the intestinal infection, of which five did not survive.

“It’s a nasty strain,” said Dr. David Lemiski, of Vernon Veterinary Clinic, whose phone has been ringing off the hook with concerned dog owners.

But as of Friday, Lemiski hadn’t seen any new cases for four or five days.

“The whole clinic is breathing a little easier.”

While parvovirus outbreaks are not unusual, and pop up from time to time, this particular strain appeared with stronger symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, said Lemiski.

“There were a few more losses than average,” he said of the virus that first showed up in the 1970s and various strains have evolved since.

“This particular strain we want to isolate and identify it.”

Parvovirus is preventable through vaccination (which is included in basic immunizations), along with booster shots every one to three years.

In virtually all of the cases in this outbreak, the dogs had not had their booster shots within the past year.

“If you’ve had a parvovirus vaccine within the past year you are 100 per cent safe,” said Lemiski, adding that puppies need two or three boosters.

Most of the time parvovirus presents itself in dogs from more rural areas, especially where there is increased access to coyotes.

But this time the animals came from outlying urban areas, including Kin Park, East Hill and Coldstream.