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Increase in Parvovirus Cases Prompts Calls for Vigilance

The greater Seattle area has seen more cases than usual of the potentially deadly canine disease this fall, prompting tips for preventing its spread from Kirkland's KDOG and others organizations.

First noted in a death after a recent Pet Expo at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the dog illness Parvovirus appears to be on the rise throughout the area, prompting recommendations by several organizations on preventing its spread.

In early November, a dog that attended a pet expo in Puyallup died of Parvovirus, according to the America's Family Pet Expo’s Facebook page. The world’s largest pet and pet product expo was held at the Puyallup Fair & Events Center on Nov. 3 and 4.

Many other Puget Sound areas have reported dogs becoming ill with the virus, which attacks the lining of the digestive system, causing severe fever, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea, including due to the increasing incidence of the illness. Young dogs that haven't received a full three doses of vaccinations are particularly vulnerable, though an increased number of cases have been reported in fully vaccinated animals as well.

The reason for the dog park closures in some areas is that Parvo is highly contagious, and wet winter conditions facilitates spread of the disease, which is spread mainly by contact with the feces of infected dogs--whether directly or if it comes home on your shoes, for example. It can take 7-10 days from exposure for a pet to become ill, and treatment can be very expensive, the Seattle Times reports.

Doug Williams of the King County parks department said Monday that there have been no reported cases of the virus at Marymoor but added that both the county and the nonprofit that helps run the park's off-leash area are monitoring the situation.

Edmonds Parks and Recreation Director Carrie Hite recommended the following, though parks in Edmonds remained open: "If your dog has been ill, or showing any unusual signs, please keep your dog at home and seek veterinary care. The canine Parvovirus is highly contagious and dangerous, especially to young dogs."

If you're not sure your dog's vaccinations are up to date, check with your veterinarian, and if your dog is at risk, you might want to avoid dog parks.

The recommendation for Parvovirus vaccinations (CPV) is at 8, 12, and about 16 weeks of age for puppies; a booster at one year; and boosters every three years thereafter.

The website WorkingDogs.com offers additional information on the disease, and effective ways to combat its spread.

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