Unvaccinated dogs of any age are at risk of getting the canine parvovirus, especially in northern Santa Barbara County.
The Santa Barbara County Animal Services is reporting an alarmingly high number of cases of Parvovirus in the northern county area.
The Santa Maria Animal Center has seen 9 confirmed cases of the Parvovirus in the last two weeks. The infected dogs have ranged in age from six weeks to five months. The documented cases at the shelter have been from the Santa Maria area. Local veterinarians have also reported a significant increase in dogs being brought in with the virus.
Parvovirus is spread from direct dog-to-dog contact, contaminated feces, or contaminated environments and is most commonly seen in young puppies.
The County is urging dog owners to vaccinate their dogs and to avoid dog parks, beaches, pet stores, and other public places where other dogs may frequent.
Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system and prevents the dog from being able to properly absorb nutrients.
Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms appear as severe gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and bloody diarrhea. In many cases, dehydration, shock, or death can follow.
The County recommends dog owners to include the parvovirus vaccination as part of their yearly vaccination package.
Dogs that have begun treatment for the parvovirus can still shed the virus through feces for up to 30 days after treatment.
The Parvovirus is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.