Parvovirus: Fatal dog virus spread 'may be due to cost'

By Kevin Leonard
BBC News

image captionParvovirus symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea and fever

The economic crisis may be contributing to the spread of a potentially deadly virus which is killing dogs, an animal charity fears.

Dogs homes and rescue centres are reporting a rise in the number of recent parvovirus cases.

The Abandoned Animals Association in Denbighshire said the cost of the annual parvovirus vaccination booster may be deterring some dog owners.

The highly infectious disease can be fatal, particularly in younger dogs.

Carol Roberts, manager of the Abandoned Animals Association in Prestatyn, said: "I think it all boils down to people not being able to afford to get their dogs vaccinated.

"It's an annual vaccination and with the state of the economic climate it's just not a priority for them. We've noticed it [the parvovirus] the last five or six months."

The virus is passed from dog to dog and can be contracted by contaminated dog faecal matter. Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea and fever.

Puppies require an initial double vaccination then an annual booster which can cost more than £40.

At the local authority-run Cardiff Dogs Home, manager Maria Bailie said she had not seen any parvovirus cases until towards the end of last year but had now lost seven dogs to it.

"From our point of view since November, we've had five dogs that have had to be put down because of parvovirus and two that have died," she said.

"We hadn't seen instances of parvo at the dogs home for years."

She said she was now extremely concerned and urged dog owners to get their pets vaccinated.

'Big issue'

"It's incredibly important to get the message out there," she said. "You can liken it to the measles outbreak in Swansea that is spreading because people opted not to have the vaccination and I think something similar is happening here with parvovirus.

"It's certainly a big issue for us."

She said unvaccinated dogs brought to the home were vaccinated by vets on site as soon as possible.

The Providing Animals with Sanctuary charity in Harlech, Gwynedd, has also been affected, with one puppy dying recently from the virus.

Charity chair Paul Newing said: "We buy places in kennels and some of them are reluctant to take dogs from the dog pounds [because of the parvovirus]."

He said the virus was a problem but it had always been an issue.

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