Johnson City Press: 6 more confirmed parvo cases stretch Washington Co./Johnson City shelter shutdown

6 more confirmed parvo cases stretch Washington Co./Johnson City shelter shutdown

Jessica Fuller • Updated Mar 19, 2018 at 9:47 PM

Six more dogs at the Washington County/Johnson City Animal Shelter contracted parvovirus over the weekend, prolonging the shelter’s shutdown into next week. 

That brings the count up to eight dogs that have been diagnosed with the virus, including the two dogs diagnosed last week, Executive Director Cara Ledbetter said, and the latest diagnosis was on Sunday. The shelter will remain closed until at least next Wednesday, to give the virus time to show up in other dogs at the shelter if they have become infected. 

Three dogs remained in treatment and were doing well as of Monday afternoon. Ledbetter said so far no dogs have died from the virus. The other five are back at the shelter and are healthy, she said.

“We want to make sure that we’re quarantining all of the dogs so nobody else is infected from this point forward,” she said. “We want to make sure that we’re giving the dogs every opportunity to show the signs before we do any adoptions or open back up. 

‘It’s an opportunity for us to really be able to pay close attention to the dogs and make sure no one is showing signs at all, and if they are, we can do a test immediately at the shelter.”

For extra precaution, she said the shelter has disposed of all the dogs’ bedding and toys. While adoptions are halted for the next nine days, Ledbetter said the shelter will be taking donations from the community to help replenish the stock of bedding and toys.

Parvovirus, also known as parvo, is a gastrointestinal disease that is passed to dogs through fecal matter. If an infected dog isn’t treated early enough, the virus can be deadly.

While the virus can’t infect humans or other animals, it can live on surfaces like the bottoms of shoes and be transferred to other dogs, so Ledbetter said closing the shelter and continuing to clean is also stopping the virus from spreading to the community. 

“We’re being a little overly cautious, but we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to not allow this to be spread any further,” she said. 

Ledbetter said the shelter is working with several veterinarians in the community and at the University of Tennessee to make sure it is doing everything possible to keep the virus from spreading further. The shelter will still take emergency calls to pick up stray animals, but stray dogs also will be quarantined and the shelter won’t take any animals at the door until the shutdown is lifted. 

All dogs brought into the shelter are given several vaccines, including one for parvovirus, but the vaccine is ineffective if the dog is infected before it is brought to the shelter.

Parvovirus can be prevented with a series of vaccinations for puppies and a yearly booster for adult dogs. Symptoms of parvovirus include a fever, loss of appetite, severe diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration. 

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