Council is encouraging residents to ensure their dogs are vaccinated to prevent the spread of parvo. Photo: Contributed
Council is encouraging residents to ensure their dogs are vaccinated to prevent the spread of parvo. Photo: Contributed Contributed

Lower Clarence spared of parvovirus outbreak ... for now

THE canine parvovirus outbreak is yet to appear in the Lower Clarence.

Three veterinary clinics in Grafton and South Grafton diagnosed seven cases of parvovirus in one day last week.

>> RELATED STORY: Deadly dog virus outbreak strikes South Grafton

However, Yamba veterinary surgeon Anton Sluyters said no confirmed cases had been recorded at Yamba Veterinary Clinic or its sister clinic in Maclean.

"In the Yamba district we haven't had any incidences," Dr Sluyters said.

"We had one suspected case because of the notoriety the outbreak has received, but it was proven negative.

"Be believe the it is still restricted to the Grafton area."

Dr Sluyters suggested a major reason Yamba had so far escaped the virus was because the area has a much higher compliance rate with its clients compared to other centres such as Grafton.

"Unfortunately this is one of those typical examples of how vaccination will prevent outbreaks," he said.

"By and large Yamba is good. We give everyone all the information when they take the initiative to care for a dog and promote the concept that it should be vaccinated."

In describing the risk of the virus re-entering the community, Dr Sluyters likened the scenario to humans vaccinating against polio.

"The risk of polio returning is quite real and if there is any considerable lack of vaccination, polio will be back. That's the same with parvovirus.

"When vaccination numbers are under par, it becomes a numbers game. It becomes a matter of when will it seep through?

"And once parvovirus gets hold in the population it is very contagious and hardy for a long time in the environment."

Dr Sluyters estimated he had seen about six significant parvovirus outbreaks during his almost 30 years practising in the Clarence Valley, and all had initiated from Grafton.

He said he could understand why it was difficult to convince all people to vaccinate, but reiterated how easily the disease could be transmitted when only a small percentage of the population does not comply.

"It's often property animals that are not being vaccinated," he said. "Their owners think that because they're so far away and that their never see other dogs, why bother taking their dogs for an hour hour and a half trip and paying the cost of the vet.

"But occasionally these dogs to go to another property, or to a show where there's hundreds of dogs all together."

In the meantime, Dr Sluyters urged residents to remain vigilant to help prevent the disease spreading further.

"What people can do is keep their dog away from public areas where they can come into contact with unkown dogs.

"If there are any signs of vomiting or diarrhorea, take it to the vet.

"The overriding message is all unvaccinated dogs should be vaccinated, especially young pups. Now is the time to protect them."

Veterinary clinics in the Clarence Valley

(Click the link for details)

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