Lancaster vets warn of 'highly contagious' canine parvovirus outbreak across district

Cases of the potentially fatal canine parvovirus have been confirmed by several veterinary practices across south Cumbria and north Lancashire.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 10:45 am
Bay Vets are warning of a canine parvovirus outbreak across the region.

Bay Vets, which operate four surgeries in Lancaster Morecambe, Milnthorpe and Caton, have warned on their social media of an outbreak of the "horrible, high contagious, viral disease, causing severe vomiting and diarrhoea, which can be fatal".

The vets have advised that owners of all puppies that have not had their first year booster yet should either bring the booster forward (if they are due it in the next 2-3 months) or have a parvo top up vaccination if they are 16 weeks old or older.

They said: "All of the cases we have confirmed have been in dogs under 12 months old. They have had different brands of vaccination courses, so we suspect it is not related to a particular vaccine breakdown.

"The reason we think we are seeing this is due to two factors: The level of virus in the environment is much increasing due to an influx of puppies from all over the country and abroad, and the effect of MDA (maternally derived antibodies) on a puppy's immune response."

When a puppy sucks the first milk (colostrum) from its mother it gets some temporary antibodies which protects it from disease for the first few weeks of life.

Unfortunately the level of these antibodies also can affect how well the puppy responds to its first vaccinations.

The vaccine manufacturer advises us that there is sufficient level of cover for most puppies when we give the pup its second vaccination at 10 weeks old, which is what we have been advising for many years.

A small proportion of puppies will not be sufficiently protected due to high levels of maternally derived antibodies (MDA) from the mothers milk affecting the immune response.

In past years, when the level of the virus in the environment was low, these puppies didn’t come across the virus and were then fully protected at their first year booster (when their mothers antibodies had long worn off) but now there is a lot more virus circulating, these dogs are catching the disease.

Bay Vets said: "We are advising all puppies that have not had their first year booster yet either bring the booster forward (if they are due it in the next 2-3 months) or have a parvo top up vaccination if they are 16 weeks old or older.

"If your dog is an adult and is up to date with their vaccinations then having a parvo top up is not going to make any difference to their immune system so a parvo top up is not recommended.

"If your dog is not up to date with their vaccinations then we recommend restarting the course ASAP."

Lanes Vets, who have surgeries in Lancaster and Garstang among their group, have also issued a warning.

They said: "Several of you will already be aware but there is currently an outbreak of parvovirus in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

"Parvovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, with young dogs and puppies being particularly at risk. Due to this we will be offering a top-up vaccination for puppies at 16 weeks old, and also for dogs under 12 months who have not yet had their first booster.

"If your dog fits in either of those categories or if you have any concerns or queries, please contact your local Lanes Vets branch for advice."