By CASEY CROUCHER
After six cases of canine parvovirus were discovered in a three-month span, Amsterdam residents are being encouraged to bring their dogs to an upcoming parvo vaccination clinic.
"In the last year, we've had 12 to 15 known cases of parvo," city Animal Control Officer Gina Kline said. "Six of those cases have been in the last three months and two of those recent cases have led to death. That's a lot of cases for such a small span of time."
Because of the recent outbreak, Kline said she set up a vaccination clinic Tuesday at the Wilbur H. Lynch Literacy Academy bus garage from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. for city residents only. The vaccination cost is $10 per dog.
Kline said canine parvovirus is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus transmitted from dog to dog through feces and saliva.
Symptoms of the virus include lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, fever, abdominal distention or discomfort, signs of dehydration including pale gums and bloody diarrhea.
"Basically what parvo would be for humans would be a stomach bug on steroids, and typically the dog dies from dehydration," Kline said.
She said the virus typically attacks puppies younger than 18 months old, with puppies younger than 6 months old usually dying from the virus.
However, she said, the virus is curable when caught in its early stages and preventable when the dog is vaccinated.
"Parvo is 80 percent fatal and 96 percent preventable," she said. "It's like chicken pox."
The series of vaccination differs based on the dog's age. Puppies younger than 6 months old receive a series of three shots, and puppies older than 6 months old receive two shots and then a booster shot a year later.
Vaccinations start six to eight weeks after birth with booster shots every three to four weeks after until the dog is 16 to 18 weeks old.
She said if a dog owner thinks their dog has parvo, he or she should immediately consult a veterinarian. After consultation, the owner has the option of treating the dog on his or her own or at the vet's office.
She suggests seeking professional help, but she admitted it can get pricey.
"Basically to treat a dog with parvo at home you'd be treating the dehydration mainly," she said. "So you'd give the dog Pedialyte, and Imodium to stop the diarrhea, and Pepto-Bismol to help the stomach."
Treatment at home, however, is time consuming, she said.
"Owners basically have to squirt a little Pedialyte into the dog's mouth every hour, even if it's just a teaspoon, just to keep them hydrated," she said. "A vet's office would typically hook the dog up to an IV drip for constant hydration."
Kline said there are steps to prevent a puppy from being at risk of parvo.
"People with puppies should not be walking them in public areas where other dogs go, that increases their risk," she said. "You could walk through parvo-infested feces, clean your shoes off and walk into your house and the puppy could walk where you walked and still get the virus; it's so very contagious."
She said puppies should have limited exposure to other dogs in general, and if the dog contracts the virus there's a "bleach protocol" to follow.
"You bleach the yard with a 30 to 1 ratio of bleach to water in the areas the dog has gone and bedding should be sanitized or thrown out," she said. "Anything the puppy touched should be cleaned because the virus can live in an environment for up to seven months."