Veterinarian talks about deadly virus outbreak in Henderson Co.

Local News

HENDERSON Co., Ky (WEHT) — The Humane Society of Henderson County and New Hope Animal Rescue Center are temporarily closed after dogs contracted the Parvo virus. The virus infects a dog’s intestines and is most deadly in puppies with weak immune systems. It spreads quickly in areas with high K-9 activity, making places like dog parks and shelters prime hosts for a potential outbreak. 

Curious and lovable, puppies are a friend to all; but a deadly disease can end their life as quickly as it began. 

“Carriers can look as healthy as not,” said Dr. Margie Garrett with ARK Veterinary Services.

Parvo is a highly contagious intestinal virus which breaks down a dog’s immune system. “There are crooks and valleys in the intestine and it gets the very first new baby cells that start to develop,” said Garrett. 

The disease spreads easily through sniffing, licking or stepping through contaminated feces. Left untreated, it can quickly lead to death.   

“The virus itself lives in the environment for up to 7 months. It’s a very hearty virus, you can get it on your feet and walk it into a location,” said Garrett. 

In the last week, two shelters in the Tri-State have closed their doors after reports of a Parvo virus outbreak. The Humane Society of Henderson County and New Hope Animal Rescue Center have temporarily stopped accepting public drop-offs and visitation.

“Even though there are animal control operations that handle these cases and the other staff, to actually have to watch these animals die or assist in that is heartbreaking,” said Debbie Edwards with the Humane Society of Henderson County.

Shelters often don’t have access to medical records of the dog’s mother, making the disease hard to detect before symptoms are evident. 

“The mother’s immunity lasts as long as they’re nursing and probably one or two weeks after, so it all depends on her immunity as well. If she hasn’t been vaccinated properly or hasn’t been exposed to the parvo virus, she won’t have any immunity to pass on to her pups,” said Garrett.

Garrett says owners should wait until their puppy has been vaccinated and is 2-3 months old before the dog out in the general public. Garrett says the CDC recommends deworming dogs at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks. She says deworming puppies can greatly reduce their chance of catching the disease.

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(This story was originally published on August 27, 2019)

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