Dog parvo, short for parvovirus, is one of the most serious illness a dog can contract, and it’s is especially deadly in puppies. And it’s highly contagious. It can jump from dog to dog very quickly, even with indirect contact.
First discovered in the late 1970’s, it’s similar in structure to the feline parvovirus, differing by only two amino acids. It effects most types of canids, including wolves and foxes. 2 strands are the most common, but a third strand has supposedly been discovered in Italy, Vietnam, and Spain.
There are two types of infection of parvo a dog can acquire, intestinal or cardiac, and the severity varies greatly. Some dogs show no symptoms, yet die within 72 hours. More commonly, in less volatile strains, the mortality rate is just 10%.
Along with contact with other infected dogs, parvo can get caught from oral ingestion of infected feces or soil. Other animals may also be carriers, even if they themselves cannot be affected by the virus. It has a high climate tolerance, and so can survive in almost any condition, shrugging off sunlight and moisture.
Dog parvo partly causes so many problems, even with modern veterinary medicine, because it has a high rate of evolution, unlike the feline variety. It mimics RNA virus like influenza. New vaccines have to be developed for the flu every year because of the changes, and parvo is no different.
Fortunately, a dog who survives a parvo infection is generally immune for life, similar to our chicken pox, so no silent carrier dogs exist.