here's some info i collected on parvo:
Prior to 1977-78, parvovirus did not exist in the dog. The virus is a
close relative of feline panleukopenia (feline distemper) and in fact,
may have mutated from the cat and infected the dog in the late 1970¹s.
The virus is extremely hardy and survives for long periods outside its
host. The virus will live in the environment up to 6 months and survives
winter nicely under a blanket of snow where the temperature is usually
around 25-28 degrees F. Extremely cold temperatures prior to snow fall
will kill the virus. Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is the only effective
The virus is transmitted by oral ingestion of viral contaminated feces.
Upon ingestion by the new host it infects local lymph nodes, quickly
multiplies and then via the blood moves to the small intestine where
signs of the disease begin in approximately 5-6 days. The normal incubation period (time from exposure to the virus to the time when signs of disease appear) is from 7-14 days. Active excretion of the virus in the feces can begin the third day after exposure, often before clinical signs appear, and may last for one to two weeks after the onset of the disease.
The virus is
extremely deleterious to the lining (mucosa) of the small intestine. The
surface of the mucosa is stripped away upsetting crucial barriers and
interfering with normal balance of digestive enzyme secretion and
nutrient absorption. Additionaly, the normal bacterial flora of the small
intestine which aid in digestion are now exposed to ulcerated mucosa,
providing a direct route into the blood stream. Fluid loss from both
vomiting and diarrhea is dramatic and dehydration ensues. The onslaught
of bacteria and toxins into the blood will ultimately cause death.
Precipitous drops in white blood cell (WBC) counts are common and relate
directly to the prognosis and outcome of the infection. Ominous drops in
white blood cells are attributed to overwhelming degradation of WBC¹s and
the direct depressive viral effect on WBC production in the bone marrow.
The incidence of the disease is highest in young dogs and tends to start
some time after the puppy has lost its maternal protection passed on at
birth with the first milk (colostrum). Any age can be infected but, most
dogs are infected between the ages of 2-6 months when maternal antibody
decreases below a protective level in the puppy. Signs of the disease
usually are mild to nonexistent. However, a full blown case of parvovirus
untreated can easily be fatal. Certain breeds seem to be more sensitive
to the disease; possibly related to their immune system. They include
rottweilers, Doberman Pinschers, and possibly black Labrador retrievers.
Generally, a diagnosis is made on the signs of the disease and falling
white blood cell counts. Good rapid diagnostic tests are also available
at veterinary clinics. Additionally, the virus can be found in the feces
by commercial labs using electron microscopy.
Treatment for the disease is primarily supportive although recently
immunotherapy has become important. Historically, dogs were supported by
aggressive intravenous fluid therapy to combat hydration and antibiotics
given to reduce secondary bacterial infection. Food is withheld until
vomiting has ceased. Many veterinarians employ antiemetics to lessen the
signs and aid in the control of dehydration. Blood transfusions have been
employed to increase the level of globulins, red blood cells and serum
protein being lost via the bowel¹s bloody diarrhea. Most recently,
antitoxins and antiparvo serum are showing results. With hospitalization
and vigorous support most dogs will survive severe cases of parvo virus.
Early detection and aggressive therapy are the key to success.
Prevention of parvo virus is by vaccination. Modified live vaccines are
the most effective and continue to be safe. Producing and effective level
of protection requires frequent vaccination starting at 6 weeks of age
and repeating every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is sixteen weeks old. Some
investigators have suggested extending the protocol until 20-26 weeks
because of the persistence of maternal antibody in the puppy which
neutralizes the vaccine. Currently, annual revaccination is recommended.
Recently, it has been suggested that repeated annual vaccination may also
produce persistent antibody interference to the vaccination. After the
initial puppy series and first annual revaccination, boosters in the
future may be recommended triennial or less frequent. A change in
vaccine protocol, until further research is done, is not recommended.
disinfectiong info and other tidbits:
If you've recently lost a dog to Parvo, veterinarians recommend that you wait six months to a year before putting a new puppy or non-vaccinated dog in to an infected environment (even if you have disinfected it). To immediately bring an animal into a situation where one has recently died of Parvo is a virtual death sentence for the new puppy. Common sense and regular visits to the veterinarian can save your dog's life.
Parvovirus can persist in the environment for long periods. It is important to clean up after an infection. Washing the animal's area with bleach and water in a 1:30 dilution will kill the virus. The bowls should be thrown away and the bedding either bleached or thrown away to prevent further spread of the infection. Discard all feces from the infected dog. Humans can also spread the disease on their hands if they touch feces from an infected dog and then touch a puppy without washing properly. Very small amounts of fecal material on the dog's coat can contain large numbers of viral organisms and can easily be transmitted to a susceptible dog.