Shelter closes after two puppies die from parvo virus

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - Employees at the Louisa County Animal Shelter closed the facility Friday morning and are in the process of disinfecting the shelter after two puppies, a Chihuahua and husky, that were adopted from the shelter over the last two weeks, died from the canine parvovirus.

Canine parvo is a contagious virus that spreads from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. There are two distinct presentations of the virus, which are cardiac and intestinal. The cardiac type is less common and attacks the heart muscle with death occurring suddenly after a brief period of breathing difficulty. The intestinal type causes severe vomiting and severe diarrhea containing blood and mucus in the feces. It is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine especially the colon.

Friday afternoon, Kevin Linhares, the Director of General Services for Louisa County, called a press conference.

"Our vested interest is in the animals to make sure that they don't get this disease and die from it," said Linhares.

There are currently 18 dogs at the animal shelter. All of them are quarantined, each living in its own crate. Linhares said as of 2 p.m. Friday afternoon, none of the dogs were showing symptoms of parvo.

"They're all under observation and will be under observation for the next 10 days," he said.

Shelter employees are scrubbing every surface with bleach. It's unclear how the virus came into the shelter. Linhares said parvo can live on any surface. It's possible that someone may have stepped near some feces that was infected with the virus. If that shoe was not cleaned, parvo could spread with every step.

All of these dogs currently at the shelter will be tested for parvo. They have all received a parvo vaccine, but Linhares said the booster shot won't work if a dog is already infected.

Canine parvovirus will not infect humans and cats.

As a precaution, the Louisa County Animal Shelter will be closing down temporarily and suspending all adoptions and rescues starting today, Friday, June 10, 2011 through Tuesday, June 21, 2011.

During this period, the Shelter will be fully staffed and will still intake animals in accordance with Virginia law.  Should you have any questions regarding in-take or any animal complaints or concerns, contact the Animal Shelter at (540) 894-4219.

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