Pet hospitals say they’re seeing a big increase in parvovirus cases this year

Pet hospitals say they’re seeing a big increase in parvovirus cases this year
BluePearl hospitals are warning pet owners to keep up with their puppies vaccinations (Kayla Farmer/Unsplash)

Pet hospitals say they have seen an increase in cases of a life-threatening virus for puppies during the coronavirus pandemic.

BluePearl runs more than 90 pet hospitals nationwide, including several locations here in metro Atlanta.

BluePearl says its hospitals have seen an “alarming” 70% increase in the number of parvovirus cases and hospitalizations in 2020. The hospital compared the numbers to the same time period over the last five years.

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Parvovirus is a potentially deadly disease for dogs and puppies have the highest risk for getting the virus. BluePearl’s veterinarians warn dog owners not to get behind with their pet’s vaccinations.

“Parvo outbreaks pose a serious threat to our canine friends but skipping routine vaccinations could also put human health at risk through the possibility of rabies exposure,” said Dr. James Barr, BluePearl’s Chief Medical Officer. “It is vital pets receive all preventative care vaccines, and owners adhere to the timing requirements of those vaccines.”

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BluePearl is still researching what has led to the rise in cases. But it pointed to more people spending time outdoors with their pets, which could have increased exposure.

“Owners must also be vigilant not to bring their dogs or puppies to dog parks or other high traffic areas until fully vaccinated. As we delve deeper into this data, we hope to better understand the complexities of this parvovirus outbreak,” BluePearl’s Dr. Lenore Bacek said.

The hospital also said the financial situation for some owners could have made it difficult to get the vaccinations.

Parvovirus symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. Dogs and puppies can begin showing these symptoms between 3 to 10 days after exposure, but they often become contagious before they show them.

If you think your pet has parvovirus, BluePearl says to immediately isolate them and call your local veterinarian.