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Parvovirus strikes 51 dogs in O.C.

Emergency vaccination clinics are open. Most of the sick animals died or were euthanized.

September 20, 2007|From the Associated Press

Dozens of Orange County dogs have been stricken with the often deadly parvovirus, leading animal health agencies to open emergency vaccination clinics.

Fifty-one dogs with parvovirus have been seen by Orange County Animal Care Services in the last two months. Fewer than 10 cases are usually seen during that time span.

"For us, this is a significant increase," Animal Care Services Director Jennifer Phillips said.

Most of the sick dogs brought to the shelter died of the disease or were euthanized, in part to keep them from infecting other dogs, spokesman Ryan Drabek said.

The parvovirus vaccine, available at clinics for as little as $14, can protect most dogs from the virus.

Santa Ana has been hit hard. The city's animal services agency has diagnosed 19 cases in the last four weeks.

Several organizations, including the city of Santa Ana and the Southern California Veterinary Medical Assn., scheduled vaccine clinics for the coming weeks.

Dogs should get a series of parvo vaccines as puppies, then a booster every three years.

Northern Santa Barbara County has also reported a parvovirus outbreak.

Canine parvovirus, first identified in 1978, attacks the gastrointestinal tract and can damage heart muscle in puppies. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea -- which is often bloody -- dehydration and, in severe cases, fever and lowered white blood cell counts. Parvo progresses rapidly and death can occur as soon as two days after the onset of the disease. It is transmitted through fecal matter.

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