A "spike" in the number of puppies testing positive for an often fatal, yet preventable, virus has prompted Lee County Domestic Animal Services to warn pet owners they need to vaccinate their pets.
The parvo virus again reared its ugly head this week when puppies were brought to Animal Services for veterinary care.
The pups had to be euthanized, as the highly contagious illness causes "extreme pain and suffering," and many affected die even with treatment or are left with lifetime health issues.
The virus multiplies rapidly in the animal's body, overwhelming the immune system and wreaking havoc within the intestinal tract.
According to the release from Animal Services, the "Parvo virus is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces, or passed along to puppies from unvaccinated nursing mothers. Common signs include severe vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. The virus can live in organic matter, such as soil, and on other hard surfaces within the household for over a year."
Parvo, like a number of other animal ailments, can be prevented by inoculation.
The ASPCA recommends a "5-in-1," shot to protect against not only the parvo virus but distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza as well.
"Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age and a booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age," an info sheet provided on the ASPCA Web site states.
That's good advice for dog lovers.
And with spring in the air, it's also a good time for a reminder that both dogs and cats need to be vaccinated against rabies, which, while rare, is always fatal.
Here in Lee, the Health Department usually sees two to three cases per year, mostly in wild animals.
Finally, while at the vet protecting your pet or pets from illness and disease, consider getting Fido or Fluffy micro-chipped at the same time. Even inside pets can scoot out the door or escape the yard and "chipping" is the best way to see they find their way back home.
- Breeze editorial