Joseph Bisignano, DVM, serves as part of the treatment team at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital, which provides a full range of general, surgical, and specialized care. At the hospital, Joseph Bisignano, DVM, focuses on the care of animals with parvovirus and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Although it can affect dogs of any age, the highly contagious parvovirus most often impacts puppies under the age of four months. Dogs who have not been properly vaccinated are also at risk, as the virus spreads through contact between dogs, through interaction with contaminated surfaces, or via the feces of an infected animal.
The virus is extremely hardy and can live outside of a dog’s body for a significant amount of time. It easily contaminates any surface in a kennel with an infected dog and can even live on the clothing or hands of the dog’s handlers. The virus survives in cold, hot, humid, and dry environments and is difficult to destroy using standard disinfectants, though bleach is known to be effective against the contaminant.
To control parvovirus, kennels or any home with multiple dogs must take care to maintain proper vaccination schedules. If one of the dogs in the home does receive a diagnosis, handlers must take care to contain and safely dispose of the dog’s bodily excretions, as another dog can contract the disease simply by sniffing the infected dog’s stool. Shoes that come into contact with stool should receive a thorough bleach cleaning, as should any other surfaces that may be at risk of being infected.
Finally, isolation of the infected dog is of the utmost importance. When the dog is no longer infected or no longer in residence, the area should receive a thorough disinfection using a veterinarian-approved cleaning agent.