Gympie vet Shannon Coyne with Sammy, who has been vaccinated against the deadly canine parvo virus.
Gympie vet Shannon Coyne with Sammy, who has been vaccinated against the deadly canine parvo virus. Renee Pilcher

Deadly dog disease hits

VOMITING, bloody diarrhoea, shock. Huge vet bill - and then death.

It's not a nice way to go but in the past two days, eight Gympie dogs have been treated for the deadly canine parvovirus that has reached epidemic proportions in Queensland.

Gympie's busiest vet practice, Gympie Vet Services, confirmed yesterday it was experiencing its biggest spike in parvo in more than a decade. It has treated eight dogs in the past two days.

Ten years ago it treated maybe two or three cases a year.

A similar spike occurred in February this year, when several dogs from the Kilkivan area contracted the disease and another spike around show time in 2010, though this is believed to be coincidence.

Surviving parvo depends on how quickly the disease is diagnosed, the age of the dog and how aggressive the treatment is - treatment that can cost up to $2000.

Prevention is a needle.

But it's a drop-off in the number of pet owners getting their dogs immunised that has most likely caused this statewide epidemic.

Gympie vet Shannon Coyne said yesterday parvo was a horrible way for a dog to die and had a high fatality rate.

Anyone who owns a dog that has not been vaccinated is advised to keep it isolated in the face of this outbreak until they are able to get it vaccinated.

Puppies were particularly at risk, Dr Coyne said.

"I have been here (in Gympie) for more than 10 years and this is the most cases of parvo I have seen in that time. I have never seen eight cases in two days before."

Parvo is a painful and highly infectious disease that attacks the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system of dogs.

"Faeces and the vomit of infected dogs are the main sources of infection and it is easily transmitted via the hair or feet of dogs and on shoes, clothes and other objects."

Gympie Times


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