A highly contagious, ongoing outbreak of canine parvovirus was reported by Fort Riley officials in a press release Monday. The disease has been traced back to Bark Park, a dog park at Fort Riley, but area residents are being asked to use caution when exposing their dogs, especially puppies, to other dogs in public areas.
Dr. Ken Harkin, assistant professor of internal medicine at the K-State Veterinary Teaching Hospital, said parvovirus, or CPV, is an intestinal disease that initially affects the gastrointestinal tract of a dog, causing diarrhea and vomiting, and can later lead to severe dehydration.
CPV, if left untreated, can also enter the bloodstream and lower the count of white blood cells, making the dog more susceptible to generalized infection, which can be fatal.
A similar situation occurred in July 2007, said Deb Skidmore, Fort Riley media relations officer.
Harkin said the similar timing of the outbreaks is largely due to the fact that more people are outside walking their dogs.
Harkin stressed the need for veterinary care in preventing and curing CPV. He said the vaccine for the virus, which treats all strains.
“The virus is very stable and can survive for months. It is transmitted through the feces of infected dogs and is often transferred through keys, doors and shoes,” Harkin said.
Humans are not affected by CPV.
While the K-State Veterinary Hospital has not seen an increase in recent cases of the virus, Harkin emphasized the chance of survival increases drastically if medical care is given to infected dogs immediately. The vaccine should be administered early to prevent the disease, but dog owners are advised to vaccinate their dogs as soon as possible if such treatments have not been taken care of previously.
Bark Park has closed but will re-open as soon as it has been cleared as a threat to the health of area dogs, Skidmore said.
Harkin said dog owners who have questions about CPV or other diseases should contact their veterinarians.