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Area veterinarians issue warning against outbreak of Parvovirus

WSBT 22

It's a warning from veterinarians in our area. They're seeing an increase in cases of Parvovirus; a disease that can be deadly.

Parvovirus causes digestive problems and can quickly become fatal. It's highly contagious, but there is a way to keep your dog safe—it isn't keeping them inside.

Debbie Riggs comes to the Niles Avenue Dog Park in South Bend with her three dogs twice a day. The oldest is 16-year-old Cammy.

Riggs says she has a secret to keeping her dogs healthy.

"Regular vaccinations and the older one gets an older dog check-up, and they check the liver and kidneys and all that,” she said.

Veterinarians say that's the way to do it, but not everyone is getting the message.

Dr. Rick Nelson says his office has seen an increase in cases of Parvovirus. It can be hard on the staff.

"Can you imagine that puppy? And how sad that is, looking into that puppy's eyes and knowing that puppy may not go home,” said Dr. Nelson.

Staff even have to clean their shoes to prevent spreading the disease. The virus can be spread by almost any object-- meaning keeping your dogs at home doesn't protect them.

"A lot of people take that strategy. That they're just not going to let their dog be exposed, and that'll avoid the problem. Unfortunately, it doesn't because the virus will find them,” said Dr. Nelson.

The good news is that it is preventable-- a vaccine is available.

Playing with other dogs at the dog park is safe, as long as vaccinations are up to date.

Riggs says that is why she will keep bringing her dogs back.

"My dogs get exercise. They go right home, and they go to sleep,” she said.

The Niles Ave Dog Park does have a rule that all vaccinations must be up to date. Many dog parks in the area of similar requirements.

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