The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 27, 2014

Parvo hits shelter: SPCA closes facility to public 2 weeks

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid SPCA will close its shelter to the public for two weeks after an outbreak of parvovirus has sickened a dozen puppies.

Shelter director Vicky Grantz said the first sick puppy was discovered Feb. 19, and since then another 11 have caught the deadly illness.

“The puppies would be perfectly healthy when we left the night before but by the time we arrived back the next morning they were deathly ill,” she said. “It is not good, and there seems to be a strain going around that strikes very quickly.”

Grantz said the shelter will close until March 11, the average incubation period for parvovirus.

“We’ve already thoroughly cleaned everything, but we don’t want anything leaving here or anything new coming in during those two weeks,” she said. “We aren’t allowing volunteers or the public to go back there at all.”

Grantz said the shelter will take some precautions to prevent another such outbreak when the shelter reopens.

“You can either use a dip tray or shoe covers,” she said. “We’ll probably have some hand sanitizing stations.”

The director said rules concerning access to animals at the shelter must be enforced.

“In the past, our quarantine kennels, even though we tell people not to touch them, we haven’t had them completely shut off from the public,” she said. “In the future, they’re not even going be able to see them.”

All animals entering the shelter undergo a minimum 10-day quarantine. If an animal is ill, it will undergo an even longer period of quarantine.

Because of the recent outbreak, Grantz said she wanted to stress the need to have pets vaccinated.

“Every puppy needs a series of vaccinations, at least 3, starting at 7 to 8 weeks and not ending until about 16 weeks of age,” she said. “They should receive multiple vaccinations during that time frame. The schedule should be determined by your veterinarian.

“If you get one vaccine and do not get the second dose within a 30-day window, you have to start over, so it is crucial that you abide by the schedule given to you by your pets’ doctor.”

Dr. Lesa Staubus, DVM of the Oklahoma State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, said parvovirus is difficult to get rid of once it has contaminated area.

“We do have a very good vaccine that is very effective for parvo,” she said.

Staubus explained there are two types of vaccine for parvo: one that uses modified live virus and those made from dead virus.

“We like to use the modified live products because they cause immunity faster,” she said.

However, a puppy receiving the vaccine for parvo takes three days to a week before builds up immunity to the disease. She said there are many variables that determine how quickly an immunity can develop.

Staubus said when puppies suckle from their mothers they get antibodies from the milk, which can protect them from parvo. But when the antibodies fade from a puppy’s system their immune system is susceptible to the virus until vaccinated.

“We never know where that is for each individual puppy,” Staubus said. “That’s why with puppies in a shelter, when they are 6 weeks old we keep vaccinating them until they reach 16 weeks.”

She said somewhere in that time frame of a puppy’s life they no longer have their mother’s antibodies to protect them and their immune systems cannot produce the antibodies they need to fight parvovirus.

“The best thing you can do for your puppy is to keep it away from other dogs when it’s a young unvaccinated puppy,” she said.

As for Enid SPCA, Staubas said if the shelter can get past a period of two weeks where no animals have come down with parvovirus they have gotten past it.

“The healthiest thing you can do for new animals coming into a shelter environment is prearrange their arrival by two or three weeks so they can be vaccinated so by the time they walk into a shelter they have immunities,” she said. “That’s rather inconvenient for those who want to dump their animals in our communities’ shelters, but we need to take responsibility for our animals.”