What is Parvo?
Leroy from Miami, FL
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Parvo (Parvovirus) is a viral infection affecting dogs.
There are two types of parvovirus - canine & human. Canine parvo causes severe diarrhea and can lead to heart disease and death; It is more likely to be found in puppies than adult dogs. Canine parvo cannot be transmitted to humans. Human parvo causes Fifth or "slapped cheek" Disease which targets children.
According to www.dictionary.com -- Parvo (noun.) 1. Veterinary Pathology. a highly contagious, often fatal viral disease of dogs, characterized by vomiting, severe diarrhea, and depression and accompanied by high fever and loss of appetite.
Parvo is a viral disease that attacks the intestinal tract and immune system. It has been known and identifiable since 1978 and can be transmitted by direct or indirect contact with vomit or diarrhea from an infected dog. The Parvovirus can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, dehydration, high fever and sudden death.
It is hard to kill and is shed in large numbers by infected dogs. One ounce of feces can carry millions of particles of the virus. This means a fly can land in an infected area then land in your yard and infect that space. Some kennel owners or Humane Societies ask that their visitors bleach the bottom of their shoes, wash their hands in bleach water and put gowns on before allowing contact with the puppies. These are excellent precautions to take, and reduce the risk, but they are not a guarantee that the puppies will be protected from the Parvovirus.
Many kennel owners and Humane Societies who have taken these precautions still end up occasionally contracting Parvo in their kennel.
Parvo is often fatal and strikes suddenly causing your pet to become extremely ill. Without treatment the animal often dies within a few days.Dehydration is the number one cause of death with the Parvovirus. They can also pass away from loss of blood, major organ failure, infection and low blood sugar.
The symptoms may not appear in order. Every dog is different and will begin the symptoms in different stages. You may notice your dog is not playing as much and seems to be lying around a lot more.
Vomiting - The vomit is yellow froth (bile)
Diarrhea - Diarrhea has a very foul odor (worse than any smell you have encountered). It starts out with a yellowish or greenish looking stool then turns into a dark-brown-runny stool.
Depression -Your dog may or may not have a fever
They will dehydrate very quickly becoming skin and bones in a very short time. Very few dogs survive without intervention of some kind.
Parvo is extremely contagious. It is passed in the feces or vomit of an infected dog. It can be brought into your yard on your tires, on your feet or clothing after handling an infected animal. It can be passed from yard to yard by birds carrying the virus on their feet or people going "kennel-hopping" carrying the virus on clothing or shoes.
The usual incubation time for Parvo is three to fifteen days. When the virus is introduced into the body, it finds its way into the lymph glands of the animal and incubates. Eventually the virus will leave the glands and work its way into the intestinal tract where it will begin the process of eating away the intestinal lining bringing on the Parvo symptoms. It will also go into the marrow of the bones causing the puppys immune system to be compromised. This can cause infection, which makes an antibiotic extremely necessary. Again, this process usually takes anywhere from 3 to 15 days, so the number of days between exposure and your puppy showing symptoms is quite variable.
Fifth disease is caused by infection with human parvovirus B19. This virus infects only humans. Pet dogs or cats may be immunized against "parvovirus," but these are animal parvoviruses that do not infect humans. Therefore, a child cannot "catch" parvovirus from a pet dog or cat, and a pet cat or dog cannot catch human parvovirus B19 from an ill child.
An adult who is not immune can be infected with parvovirus B19 and either have no symptoms or develop the typical rash of fifth disease, joint pain or swelling, or both. Usually, joints on both sides of the body are affected. The joints most frequently affected are the hands, wrists, and knees.
The joint pain and swelling usually resolve in a week or two, but they may last several months. About 50% of adults, however, have been previously infected with parvovirus B19, have developed immunity to the virus, and cannot get fifth disease.
A person infected with parvovirus B19 is contagious during the early part of the illness, before the rash appears. By the time a child has the characteristic "slapped cheek" rash of fifth disease, for example, he or she is probably no longer contagious and may return to school or child care center. This contagious period is different than that for many other rash illnesses, such as measles, for which the child is contagious while he or she has the rash.
Parvovirus B19 has been found in the respiratory secretions (e.g., saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of infected persons before the onset of rash, when they appear to "just have a cold." The virus is probably spread from person to person by direct contact with those secretions, such as sharing drinking cups or utensils. In a household, as many as 50% of susceptible persons exposed to a family member who has fifth disease may become infected. During school outbreaks, 10% to 60% of students may get fifth disease.
A susceptible person usually becomes ill 4 to 14 days after being infected with the virus, but may become ill for as long as 20 days after infection.
During outbreaks of fifth disease, about 20% of adults and children who are infected with parvovirus B19 do not develop any symptoms. Furthermore, other persons infected with the virus will have a non-specific illness that is not characteristic of fifth disease. Persons infected with the virus, however, do develop lasting immunity that protects them against infection in the future.
A physician can often diagnose fifth disease by seeing the typical rash during a physical examination. In cases in which it is important to confirm the diagnosis, a blood test may be done to look for antibodies to parvovirus. Antibodies are proteins produced by the immune system in response to parvovirus B19 and other germs. If immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibody to parvovirus B19 is detected, the test result suggests that the person has had a recent infection.
Fifth disease is usually a mild illness that resolves on its own among children and adults who are otherwise healthy. Joint pain and swelling in adults usually resolve without long-term disability.
Parvovirus B19 infection may cause a serious illness in persons with sickle-cell disease or similar types of chronic anemia. In such persons, parvovirus B19 can cause an acute, severe anemia. The ill person may be pale, weak, and tired, and should see his or her physician for treatment. (The typical rash of fifth disease is rarely seen in these persons.) Once the infection is controlled, the anemia resolves.
Furthermore, persons who have problems with their immune systems may also develop a chronic anemia with parvovirus B19 infection that requires medical treatment. People who have leukemia or cancer, who are born with immune deficiencies, who have received an organ transplant, or who have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are at risk for serious illness due to parvovirus B19 infection.
Occasionally, serious complications may develop from parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy. For details, please see the CDC information sheet entitled, "Parvovirus B19 Infection and Pregnancy."
Treatment of symptoms such as fever, pain, or itching is usually all that is needed for fifth disease. Adults with joint pain and swelling may need to rest, restrict their activities, and take medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen to relieve symptoms. The few people who have severe anemia caused by parvovirus B19 infection may need to be hospitalized and receive blood transfusions. Persons with immune problems may need special medical care, including treatment with immune globulin (antibodies), to help their bodies get rid of the infection.
There is no vaccine or medicine that prevents parvovirus B19 infection. Frequent hand washing is recommended as a practical and probably effective method to decrease the chance of becoming infected. Excluding persons with fifth disease from work, child care centers, or schools is not likely to prevent the spread of the virus, since people are contagious before they develop the rash.
A doctor with whom I visited this subject with said it is good to get when young as it can complicate or compromise conditions as an adult.
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