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SPCA Dealing With
Parvo Outbreak

By Jeanne Sager
ROCK HILL — December 30, 2005 – A week after an outbreak of canine parvovirus became apparent at the Sullivan County SPCA, another dog was euthanized on Wednesday.
According to Town of Thompson Dog Control Officer Nancy Marinchak, a German shepherd/pitbull mix she dropped off at the shelter started showing signs of the dog disease on Wednesday.
She picked him up, took him to a veterinarian, and the dog was euthanized.
Thursday morning tests done on the dog’s bloody stool showed parvo was indeed the cause.
This is the second outbreak at the SPCA in just over a year, a problem President Bonnie Swack said is common in kennels.
Strays are brought in and inoculated immediately against the disease, she said, but it will take anywhere from three to seven days after shots are administered before a dog begins showing signs of the virus.
It begins with loss of appetite followed by bloody diarrhea and vomiting, Swack said.
The shelter received word last Wednesday that Goldy, a golden retriever/cocker spaniel mix abandoned in a bungalow colony near the Concord and dropped off at the shelter by Marinchak, had been put down by her new owners.
The dog had parvo virus, Swack said, although it had been inoculated and never showed signs before being adopted out of the shelter.
The next day, a chocolate lab mix named Brandy that had been playing with Goldy before her adoption started showing signs as well.
Swack said the labrador was taken to the vet and euthanized.
But the outbreak didn’t stop there. A third dog, an Australian shepherd named Princess that had been living right there near Brandy and Goldy, was diagnosed with the disease as well.
She too had to be euthanized.
Swack said she immediately notified animal control officers in the area and quarantined the shelter – no dogs in and no dogs out.
The 40-some cats at the SPCA are still up for adoption, she said, because they are housed in a separate section of the building.
Parvo virus is limited to canines, Swack said.
Cats cannot contract the disease, and it should not be confused with parvo B19, a human illness more commonly known as fifth disease. Humans are immune to the canine version, Swack said.
The shelter workers have been given orders to bleach their shoes when leaving the dog kennel, and the employees were instructed not to go from the cat room to the kennel and vice-versa.
“The people caring for the cats don’t go near the kennel,” Swack said. “The people in the kennel don’t go near the cats.”
Swack said they were taking all the proper precautions, and they thought things were under control until the latest dog got sick.
The German shepherd was in good health when he was dropped off, Marinchak said.
“He was fine; he definitely got it from being there,” she noted.
But Swack said the pup was living in a cage adjacent to those of the three sick dogs.
In all likelihood, vomit or urine streamed across the floor into the fourth dog’s cage, she noted.
“It’s not an airborne virus,” Swack explained.
She said the shelter workers have been doing all they could to prevent the spread of the disease, but these things happen.
“Unfortunately, we’re a very poor shelter,” Swack said.
There was simply no extra space to move the 30 extra dogs, and the disease is “highly contagious.”
Swack said parvo virus can remain dormant and live in the ground for an extended period after an outbreak.
“People need to know what they need to watch with their own animals,” she said. “They can pick it up from walking their dog in the park ... it is everywhere in this county.
“That’s why we keep ending up with it at the shelter,” Swack said. “They come from Acidalia, they come from Bridgeville, they come from Monticello.
“If people would vaccinate animals, it would totally prevent the spread,” she continued.
Swack said the SPCA will continue to monitor the situation, and veterinarian Richard Stein of Monticello is helping to oversee the process.
Animals that show signs of parvo are likely to be euthanized, Swack said, because treatment is very expensive and odds of survival are less than 50 percent.
The shelter, originally slated to be closed until January 7, will remain closed an extra week with the latest case on record.
Any new cases should show up within 14 days, Swack said.

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