Cases of canine parvovirus on the rise in Central Texas

Posted at 11:02 PM, Jul 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-20 00:02:18-04

A local veterinarian is urging puppy owners to vaccinate their pups for the canine parvovirus.

Dr. John Kuczek, a veterinarian at the Aztec Pet Hospital in Harker Heights, said there is a rise in the number of parvovirus cases in Central Texas.

"Usually, in this area, we'll see one case a week. Sometimes one case every two weeks. Lately, it's been two to three [a day]. I think one day we actually had five cases come in the door," Dr. Kuczek said.

Aimeé Nesse was one of those cases. Her dog, Rufio, who is less than a year old, contracted the virus at the animal shelter where she adopted him.

"The first day I got him, he was so lively. And I thought he'd be perfect for me. And the next day, I realized he was just kinda standing there, and he was really lethargic and kinda swaying back and forth. It looked like he was tired," she said.

She brought him to Dr. Kuczek, who diagnosed him with the canine parvovirus. Dogs who are not vaccinated for the virus, especially puppies that are around 8-16 weeks of age, are most susceptible and can contract it by sniffing or eating the feces of a dog who has the virus.

"The virus damages the intestines and causes a pathway for shock, septic shock, and ultimately death if left untreated," Dr. Kuczek said.

Nesse gave Rufio the first round of treatment, which included IV fluid and antibiotics to control any infections the virus caused.

"I was just waiting to have a broken heart," she said.

But she didn't give up and neither did Rufio. After just a few days of treatment, he was back to his old self.

"He's wonderful. He's all propped up and acting all fun. He's just squirmy wormy. He's just so much fun. He's so engaging and loves people and he's having a great time," Nesse said.

Dr. Kuczek said Nesse did the right thing by bringing Rufio in when she noticed something was wrong.

"As soon as your dog shows signs, the clock is ticking. You need to see veterinary care," he said.

Some of those signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Victoria Ebert-Doaty, who owns Nico, a 12-week-old puppy, said she couldn't wait to vaccinate him.

"He means everything to me, and we want him to last a long time," she said.

Nesse wished Rufio had been vaccinated before she adopted him.

"Get on those vaccinations. Get on the spaying and neutering, because you're about to have a pet that will be better to you than most humans," she said.

Dr. Kuczek said puppies in Texas are not required to be vaccinated for the parvovirus.

"Parvovirus is very deadly if your dog is not vaccinated," he said. "An $18 vaccination can save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in treatment."

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