Vets in Dubai report rise in canine parvovirus cases

Physicians say a vaccine is the best way to protect their pets

A surge in cases of the parvovirus in Dubai has led animal experts to warn dog owners to vaccinate their pets to keep them safe.

Vets, kennel managers and owners have reported a steady increase of the highly contagious virus, which can be fatal in younger, unvaccinated dogs.

It cannot be transferred to humans.

The first cases were reported in Dubai between six and eight weeks ago, they said, with vets in Abu Dhabi also treating dogs suffering from the virus.

More people are spending time at home so a lot of rescue dogs have found homes. As a result, statistically you would expect to see more cases of parvovirus.

Sean Parker, My Second Home

Sean Parker, general manager at My Second Home, a pet boarding service in Dubai Investments Park, said the dog community had grown substantially since the start of the pandemic.

“More people are spending time at home so a lot of rescue dogs have found homes,” he said.

“As a result, statistically you would expect to see more cases of parvovirus."

Mr Parker said he became aware of cases in the community through chat groups and conversations with vets.

“We saw the first signs of some dogs getting the virus about six weeks ago.

“We have almost 5,000 members of our facility, which represents a good portion of the dog population of Dubai.

“Dogs are being affected more than usual and the reasons are not immediately clear.”

Mr Parker said there had not been a confirmed case at his kennels and told customers to guard against the virus by ensuring their pets' vaccinations are up to date.

What is parvovirus and how does it affect dogs?

UAE dog owners are being advised to get their pets vaccinated against parvovirus, which can be deadly for puppies. Pawan Singh / The National
UAE dog owners are being advised to get their pets vaccinated against parvovirus, which can be deadly for puppies. Pawan Singh / The National

Two slightly different strains exist of canine parvovirus, CPV-2a and CPV-2b.

They cause the same disease and vaccines give protection against both.

The main source is from the faeces of infected dogs. The virus begins to be shed in the faeces just before clinical signs develop.

It is resistant to the effects of heat, detergents, alcohol and many disinfectants, so can last outside in affected areas for a considerable time.

Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhoea, with puppies younger than five months most vulnerable.

Dubai cases were initially reported in Jumeirah Village Circle and Jumeirah Village Triangle on social media in early March, while Petsville boarding kennels issued a reminder to customers to vaccinate their pets.

Amr Youssef, the owner of Petsville, in Al Quoz, Dubai, said no cases had been recorded at his kennels, but hourly fumigation and weekly turf changing was under way to protect visiting animals.

“The word is this is coming from one or two pet shops and then circulating,” he said.

“Home breeding is also a potential risk and it is causing a lot of problems.

“Dogs can shed the virus up to a month after they have recovered, so people need to be careful,” Mr Youssef said.

“For the last two weeks we have not heard of any new cases in the community, which is encouraging.”

To guard against spreading the virus, owners should always pick up after their dogs, and wipe down an animal’s paws after a walk as a precaution.

The source of the reported cases has not yet been traced, but experts said private breeders, pet shops or animal markets were the likely source, because sanitation can sometimes fall below municipality standards in those locations.

Dr Susan Aylott, who works at a community clinic with the animal welfare group Animalia in Abu Dhabi, hoped the warnings would encourage more people to vaccinate their pets.

“People need educating about this kind of virus and how dangerous it is,” she said.

“We have always seen cases of parvo and also panleukopenia in cats, which is similar.

“These cases would not appear if people had their animals vaccinated.”

“We see about three to five cases of parvo a week, but if you went out and tested more animals you would find a lot more,” Dr Aylott said.

“The pet markets and private breeders are responsible for some of these cases.

“People who have bought pets that are supposed to be vaccinated are coming to us with sick animals. That shouldn’t happen.”

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Updated: April 19, 2021 11:38 AM

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