What viruses do annual core vaccines inoculate (part 2)
By Beth Crosby
In Fluffs of Luv’s most recent post, we discussed two viruses that the annual core canine vaccine prevents: rabies and distemper. Today’s post will explain parvovirus and canine hepatitis, the remaining viruses prevented by annual core vaccines.
Canine parvovirus (CPV or parvo) is highly contagious. The virus can manifest in two different forms. The intestinal form is most common, with symptoms including vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and lack of appetite. The cardiac form is not as common but can be deadly to puppies up to six months old. Younger puppies are most susceptible to deadly parvovirus. Puppies that are vaccinated early are affected significantly less than those that are not.
Dogs contract Parvo
Dogs that come into direct contact with an infected dog or its stool will likely contract the virus. An infected dog’s stool carries high concentrations of the virus. Humans who step in parvo-contaminated feces can track the virus to their dogs. Evidence suggests parvovirus can live in the ground for about a year, regardless of weather. Clean any surface exposed to the virus with the only disinfectant known to kill canine hepatitis, household bleach.
According to PetMD, “Certain dog breeds, such as rottweilers, doberman pinschers, pit bulls, Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, English springer spaniels, and Alaskan sled dogs, are particularly vulnerable to the disease.” Pet MD continues, “Diseases or drug therapies that suppress the normal response of the immune system may also increase the likelihood of infection.”
This virus is most often found in dogs younger than one year and causes upper respiratory tract infections. Canine hepatitis also affects the liver, spleen, and kidneys. It can cause corneal clouding of eyes and endothelial cells (defined by PetMD as the cells that line the interior surface of the blood vessels). The virus cannot be eliminated, so treatment is limited to fluids and supportive care.
Virus spreads many ways
Canine hepatitis develops and grows in tonsils 6 to 8 days after exposure to this DNA virus from ingesting urine, feces or saliva. If your dog visits areas where other dogs can run and eliminate their bowels or comes into contact with other dogs, your dog is at higher risk of contracting canine hepatitis. Contaminated runs, kennels or cages, dishes, hands, boots, etc., can also facilitate transmission.
Early in the illness, canine hepatitis sheds into the dog’s feces and saliva. The virus sheds in the urine for up to 9 months, even after the dog appears well. All of these bodily fluids can infect dogs.
If the dog is also infected with parvovirus or distemper those infections worsen the prognosis (the course the virus will take).
Visible symptoms of canine hepatitis include eating less and appearing more thirsty. Infected dogs might appear lethargic, apathetic or depressed. As the illness progresses, you might observe fever, tonsillitis, vomiting or diarrhea in your dog. Call your veterinarian immediately if you notice bruising of skin or enlarged lymph nodes. Late stages of canine hepatitis frequently cause death within hours.
The dog’s eyes might appear to have conjunctivitis (or inflammation in the eye or eye lid often called pink eye in humans). Discharge from the eyes and nose is another symptom. Less frequently, the dog suffers abdominal pain and vomiting. The mouth might develop pinpoint dark red spots or enlarged tonsils from internal bleeding.
The virus will clear the immunized dog’s organs within two weeks, but will remain in the kidneys. Canine hepatitis will be shed in the urine for 6 to 9 months.
Hepatitis blue eye affects vision
If the virus is not completely neutralized, the dog will have chronic hepatitis. This condition leads to “hepatitis blue eye”. Late stage infection will result in 20 percent of cases developing eye inflammation and corneal swelling 4 to 6 days after infection. Dogs often recover within 21 days, but infectious hepatitis can progress to glaucoma and corneal ulceration.
Canine hepatitis is not limited to our canine companions. The virus also is in “foxes, wolves, coyotes, bears, lynx and pennipeds (carnivorous aquatic mammals); other carnivores may become infected without developing clinical illness”, according to the “Merck Veterinary Manual”.
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