Canine Parvovirus

Canine Parvovirus (CPV) is a viral disease caused by the genus Canis familiaris. It affects domestic dogs and other canids such as wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes and others. CPV was first described in 1981 [1]. Since then it has been reported from several countries including Canada, USA, UK and Australia [2–5] but most recently from the United States [6]. There are two main types of canine parvovirus: CPV1 and CPV2. The first one is a virus which infects dogs and causes severe clinical signs. The second type is not infectious to humans but its clinical manifestations resemble those of canine parvo virus 1 (CPV-1). These latter viruses have been found in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand [7–9].

The disease is characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and sometimes neurological signs. The duration of illness ranges from 2 days to 6 months depending on the strain of the virus. Most cases resolve without any complications after 3 weeks or so [10]. The incubation period varies between 4 and 12 days [11]. In some cases the disease may progress rapidly with death occurring within 10–14 days [12].

The reason for the disease’s name is the miniature enveloped DNA viral genome of only 5 kilobases that has linear symmetry and is double stranded. It is very stable which helps it survive outside the host.

The virus is shed in the vomit and feces for up to two weeks before diarrhea appears and up to 2 months after it resolves.

The virus is highly contagious and may be spread through contact with infected dogs, their feces or vomit. Airborne transmission has been suggested but not proven. Interspecies transmission has also been reported in some cases. Transmission may be increased by stress and secondary bacterial infection [12, 13]. In immunocompromised patients the disease may be severe and fatal.

The virus has been isolated from experimentally infected chimpanzees.

Diagnosis can be confirmed with a number of tests, such as virus isolation, antigen detection, and PCR.

There is no treatment for parvo and the virus is 100% fatal in dogs. Supportive care is the standard treatment approach. This includes rehydration, nutrition, and medication for secondary infections. There are no proven prophylactic measures. Vaccinations are available but must be given before or immediately after exposure to be effective.

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