The highly contagious and potentially deadly parvovirus has been found in working dogs in the Stroud and Dungog regions.
It's standard practice for dog breeders to vaccinate puppies against parvo as their underdeveloped immune system struggles to cope, if infected, which can result in death.
On January 1, Dungog Veterinary Hospital posted on Facebook that it had had "an influx of dogs in both Dungog and Stroud with parvovirus".
"Young puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at greater risk of contracting this disease," the post stated.
Parvo is mainly spread by direct contact with an infected dog, or indirectly by the fecal-oral route. However, the canine parvovirus (CPV) can survive in soil for up to a year.
It affects puppies, adults dogs and wild canids, including foxes and dingoes.
In order to get infected, the animal must be exposed to the viral particles found in feces, infected soil and anything that can carry the virus around such as shoes, car tyres or dog's paws. All the dog needs to do is lick its paws after walking on contaminated soil or eat food off contaminated ground. It's possible that even insects or rodents may be transporting the virus from place to place.
The virus manifests itself in two different forms, the more common being intestinal and the less common being cardiac.
The intestinal form of CPV affects the body's ability to absorb nutrients, and an affected animal will quickly become dehydrated and weak from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The wet tissue of the mouth and eyes may become noticeably red, and the heart may beat too rapidly.
The major symptoms associated with the intestinal form of a canine parvovirus infection include:
- Severe, bloody diarrhea
- Severe weight loss
CPV is resistant to most cleaning products and to weather changes, making it very difficult to get rid of.
"If you have just acquired a new dog (of any age), or if your dog has never been vaccinated, speak to your local veterinarian to organise a health check and vaccination," the Dungog Veterinary Hospital post stated.