Cape Town – The potentially fatal canine parvo virus (CPV) – initially confined to the De Waal Park area in the CBD and limited to a tragic isolated incident – has spread to a number of neighbourhoods in the southern suburbs.
Allan Perrins, of the Animal Welfare Society of South Africa, has warned that the virus is so potent it is able to be carried and transmitted by unwitting third-party vectors on the soles of their shoes or clothing. All dogs and puppies are at risk regardless of demographics.
All pet owners have been urged to vaccinate their pets and to be extra vigilant. However, in one disturbing instance a dog owner claims her dog was fully vaccinated and never left their premises, yet it contracted the virus, Perrins said.
Last year, CPV claimed hundreds of dogs and puppies lives on the Garden Route, in Khayelitsha and areas of the Cape Flats.
“Contrary to our earlier observations and statement we now have strong evidence to suggest that the potentially fatal canine parvo virus, initially confined to the De Waal Park area of Cape Town CBD and limited to a tragic isolated incident, has regrettably spread to a number of other neighbourhoods in the southern suburbs,” Perrins said.
“The virus is so potent that it is able to be carried and transmitted by unwitting third-party vectors on the soles of their shoes or clothing and it is a myth that it is confined to any specific sector of the community.
“All dogs and puppies are at risk regardless of demographics. We subsequently urge all pet owners to vaccinate their pets and to be extra vigilant.
“There are several affordable and practical bio-security precautionary measures that pet owners can take including dunking the soles of their shoes into a strong bleach solution to disinfect their shoes before entering their property and avoiding walking in areas frequented by potentially infected dogs (especially those areas where dog walkers tend not to pick-up their dogs faeces) until the situation normalises.
“Worrying signs to look out for include diarrhoea (gastro type symptoms), listlessness, loss of appetite and lethargy.
“Any dog or puppy displaying any of the above negative symptoms or that appears to be ‘off colour’ should be seen by a veterinarian without delay. An affordable snap-test will quickly confirm whether or not the pet has the parvo virus.
“Pet owners should also be aware that the virus can survive for many months on an infected property and are strongly discouraged from acquiring another dog or puppy for at least six months.
“In one case brought to our attention yesterday, the distraught owner claims that her dog was fully vaccinated and never left their premises, yet it contracted the virus.
“The dog is currently in intensive care fighting for its life at a Pinelands vet. It is very likely that this unfortunate dog was unwittingly infected by one of the occupants of or visitors to the premises, who must have walked in a contaminated area or come into contact with another infected dog.
“Last year, CPV claimed hundreds of dogs and puppies lives in the Garden Route, Khayelitsha and areas of the Cape Flats and required a Herculean effort to stop it from spreading and claiming more lives.
“To halt the spread of the virus in the Philippi Horticultural Area, the Animal Welfare Society of SA, in partnership with Carecube.org, vaccinated over 500 vulnerable dogs and puppies owned by Philippi farm labourers and rolled out an educational campaign to educate owners about the necessity to vaccinate their pets.
“The legacy of this campaign is a massive reduction in the number of preventable dread diseases within the beneficiary community.
“We see between 10 and 20 CPV cases every day. This is nothing exceptional. It is the tragic norm.
“In almost all of these cases the owners neglected to vaccinate their pets, had them vaccinated by a dubious person or bought them unvaccinated at a reduced price from unscrupulous breeders.
“Heartbreakingly almost all of these pets have to be humanly euthanised to end their pain and suffering. Anyone thinking of skimping on their pets primary veterinary care and animal husbandry is courting disaster.”