Parvovirus - why vaccinations are important - meet Samson

Samson came to us as a very sick but brave little puppy. Over the weekend his concerned owners took him to the Emergency Centre as he was vomiting and had diarrhoea. A test by the Veterinarians at the centre revealed Samson had parvovirus.

Parvovirus is an infectious disease found in dogs. You may of heard of it before as it is one of the diseases that we vaccinate for every year.

Parvovirus is caused by a virus and is easily transmitted between dogs and picked up from contact with areas where an infected dog has been. The virus is very resistant and requires strong chemicals (like bleach) to inactivate.

Samson's owner had only had him a short time when he became sick. The virus affects the lining of the bowel and also the bone marrow where it targets actively dividing cells. Affected dogs have severe vomiting and diarrhea with bleeding into the bowel. The lining of the bowel is destroyed and passed out with the diarrhea. This allows bacteria in the bowel to gain access to the rest of the body.

The bone marrow is responsible for producing white cells, which protect us against infection. Parvovirus destroys the bone marrow and renders the body very susceptible to infection. So you can see that the combination of bowel damage and bone marrow suppression is particularly bad, especially for young animals. There is a high mortality rate with this disease.

Samson was in bad shape when he arrived. He was in a lot of pain, very dehydrated and his white cell count was 0.2 instead being around 8-12. His protein levels were low and his electrolytes were in disarray. The outlook for him was very grim. However we started him on high levels of antibiotics, fluids and pain relief and added some "Caniplas" a new product which is effectively plasma from adult healthy dogs. This contains proteins and antibodies which help greatly in fighting off infections like parovirus.

Fortunately Samson responded to this treatment and 3 days later was quite bright, able to drink and had a white cell count back up to 8. He was eating the next day and discharged to his anxious owner and has not looked back since.

Samson is a very lucky puppy to survive parvovirus infection and he reminds us that we should vaccinate our dogs every year to maintain immunity against this infection.

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