Warning over lethal dog virus

THOUSANDS of Suffolk dog owners were today of an increase in the potential deadly parvovirus disease by a leading animal charity.Experts are urging owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated after the RSPCA in Martlesham warned of a rise in the lethal virus.

THOUSANDS of Suffolk dog owners were today of an increase in the potential deadly parvovirus disease by a leading animal charity.

Experts are urging owners to ensure their pets are vaccinated after the RSPCA in Martlesham warned of a rise in the lethal virus.

For several weeks vets, mainly in the Gainsborough and Chantry areas of Ipswich, have been fighting to save dozens of desperately sick dogs and have only been able to say the cause was a type of severe gastroenteritis.

Tests had proved negative for parvovirus but the Suffolk East & Ipswich branch of the RSPCA said that could be because most of the pets are being brought to vets too late and the parvovirus may no longer be able to be detected.

Sue Southgate, the manager at the RSPCA's Mill Lane clinic, said: “Some of the dogs affected are old, some are vaccinated and some are not walked, which indicates the virus is carried on shoes or in the air.

“It certainly is still a big problem for dog owners and the message to get your dog vaccinated needs advertising.”

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She added: “Dog deaths from parvovirus are rising and vaccinations have fallen to a point where the virus is spreading.”

The charity has reissued its warning to dog owners to make sure their dogs are vaccinated and to avoid taking them to high risk areas, such as parks, where large numbers of dogs are taken.

The virus is affecting very young dogs and old dogs in particular and it leaves them with severe vomiting and diarrhoea and it has proved fatal in a number of cases.

A 14-year-old dog owner from Ipswich contacted the Star and told how her 15-week-old puppy was put down after falling ill.

She said: “I'm heartbroken. This morning my Rottweiller puppy got put down because of the parvo disease.

“The thing that is hurting me more is that I go down the road and I see people still walking their dogs.

“I don't want anymore people to feel how I am right now.”

A spokeswoman for Smith Ryder-Davies veterinary surgeons, in Felixstowe and Woodbridge, said vets had treated a number of dogs suffering gastroenteritis with blood in their vomit and diarrhoea, but it was not thought to be connected to incidents in Ipswich.

“Because of the strange summer we have had, viruses seem to be hanging around longer. We don't believe this is parvovirus, although it is similar. We would advise all dog owners to get their pets fully vaccinated against everything they can be,” she said.

Weblink: www.ipswich-rspca.org

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