United Kingdom

Highly contagious virus killing dogs could surge because of Covid, experts warn

There are fears that a highly contagious virus that kills dogs could surge after a ‘lockdown puppy boom’ amid the Covid pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has made preventative health care for pets a challenge, one expert has said.

This has prompted concerns of a resurgence in parvovirus, that has a high fatality rate among dogs.

Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and spreads from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their faces.

Vaccines can prevent the infection, but the rate of mortality can reach as high as 91 per cent in untreated cases.

Now, The Independent reports that experts fear a rise in cases because of the Covid outbreak and a surge in dog ownership.

The virus can be lethal to dogs

Edward Davies, chairman of the UK clinical board at My Family Vets, was reported to have said that a resurgence of the virus was a worry.

He said: “Due to the lockdown puppy boom and the whole Covid situation, ensuring preventative health care has been correctly followed for all pets has been a real challenge.”

Lara Wilson, a lead veterinary surgeon at the Vets Now pet emergency hospital in Glasgow, added: “Unfortunately we are seeing dogs presenting with sickness and diarrhoea symptoms on a daily basis at the moment, which is not the normal pattern.”

She added that the Covid-19 pandemic has “resulted in a huge increase in dogs testing positive for canine parvovirus”.

The publication reports that the registration of new puppies leapt by 26 per cent between April and June last year.

Some of these new owners reportedly turned to illegal breeders and so-called ‘puppy mills’ where guidance and support on vaccination is not clear.

According to research by My Family Vets some 45 per cent of registered pet owners are reported to have not received their initial vaccination course or subsequent boosters.

Separate research by Vets Now reportedly showed a 129 per cent increase in suspected cases of parvovirus in the first three months of 2021, compared with the same period last year – up from 24 to 55 infections.

Meanwhile, the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network, a team dedicated to detecting disease outbreaks in animals, was said to have found that there had been no recent indications of a surge in parvovirus.


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