Vet’s warning as dog virus strikes

A DEADLY virus that attacks dogs has broken out on a housing estate. This week a veterinary surgeon warned dog owners living on Westmill, Hitchin, to keep their pets off the streets if they had not been vaccinated against the canine parvovirus. Philippa P

A DEADLY virus that attacks dogs has broken out on a housing estate.

This week a veterinary surgeon warned dog owners living on Westmill, Hitchin, to keep their pets off the streets if they had not been vaccinated against the canine parvovirus.

Philippa Peters, a vet at the Berry House practice in Nightingale Road, said the discovery of the virus is very serious and dog owners should report any signs of illness in their pets immediately.

So far four dogs have died of the virus since it was discovered three weeks ago.

A nurse at the practice said it is believed the virus was brought into the area by travellers racing their lurcher dogs on Oughtonhead adjacent to Westmill.

The virus only attacks dogs and cannot be passed on to humans or other animals. The first signs of infection are vomiting and diarrhoea and anyone who has a sick dog should immediately take them to a vet. But dogs can carry the virus without showing signs.

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"This virus is very serious as it attacks the lining of a dog's gut," said Ms Peters.

"A dog has a very poor prognosis of survival if it has not had its routine vaccinations once a year. The virus has a very serious impact on puppies."

Dogs pick up the virus through being in contact with bodily excretions that have been left by other infected dogs which can also be carried into homes by humans on shoes.

The risks, said the vet, are high for dog owners on Westmill because of a high population of dogs in the area.

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