Parvovirus in dogs

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is very contagious and causes primarily a gastrointestinal (GI) disease. The disease can be prevented by vaccination.
CPV is highly concentrated in the feces of infected animals. It persists in the environment under a variety of conditions and is resistant to many common disinfectants. Because parvovirus is so resilient, the virus can be carried on inanimate objects (fomites) such as shoes, clothing, and other materials that touch infected substances. Transmission commonly occurs by swallowing the virus.
Clinical Signs:
The primary signs are GI and include diminished appetite, vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea. Vomiting is often severe, and diarrhea may be profuse and bloody. Fever may be present, and animals can become severely dehydrated very quickly. Affected dogs are often very weak, and shock may develop in some dogs from the dramatic loss of body fluids. Rarely, the heart is affected, which can cause sudden death.
Diagnostic Tests:
Because CPV causes many infected dogs to become seriously ill, a number of tests may be recommended to assess its effects on various organs and to confirm the presence of the virus:
* A complete blood count may show low numbers of certain white blood cells and platelets (needed for blood clotting). Anemia may be detected and is sometimes severe.
* A serum biochemistry panel may show low blood protein levels and electrolyte imbalances (such as low potassium) from the vomiting and diarrhea.
* X-rays of the abdomen help rule out other causes of GI signs.
* Specific tests for parvovirus are done on fecal samples. These tests are rapid, may be done in the veterinary clinic, and are very reliable. However, false-positive tests are possible 5-12 days after vaccination for parvovirus, because noninfective virus is shed in the feces after vaccination. False-negative tests are also positive.

Follow-up Care:
Dogs that recover from parvovirus disease usually have long-lasting protection from reinfection. Regular vaccination is recommended to maintain good immunity, however.
Dogs that survive the first 2-4 days of treatment are most likely to recover fully. Prognosis is guarded (uncertain) for dogs with prolonged illness. Prognosis is poor for dogs with sepsis. Dogs with CPV-related heart disease often die from the condition.