The Mdzananda Animal Clinic in Khayelitsha has reported experiencing the worst influx of Parvovirus patients in the 24 years of the organisation’s existence.
“In November 2018 we experienced the highest recorded patient numbers. Now we have far exceeded even those figures, with an increase of approximately 250% percent on average months,” says Marcelle du Plessis, Fundraising and Communications Manager.
The canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that affects dogs. It spreads through the feces of infected dogs and is often fatal. Common symptoms of an infected dog includes vomiting, diarrhea (with a very distinct smell), lethargy and loss of appetite.
“On average months our clinic sees 33 cases in our consultation rooms and admits 16 cases to our hospital. In October our consultation room saw 100 cases and we admitted 59 patients. November saw 73 cases in consulting rooms and 35 patients were admitted.”
Parvovirus infection can be prevented by having dogs vaccinated. Puppies should be vaccinated at 6 weeks of age, have their second injection a month later and their third month after that. Thereafter only one booster vaccination is required per year.
“If dogs were not vaccinated as puppies they can still be vaccinated against this virus at any age. We advice people to do this as soon as possible,” says du Plessis.
Parvo virus breeds in warm temperatures, making summer a perfect environment. The sandy conditions of the Khayelitsha community also supports the breeding.
“We believe that the record numbers are a possible after-effect from lockdown and the restrictions placed on veterinary services. In lockdown level one and two, veterinary clinics were only allowed to perform emergency services. Primary health care such as vaccinations, dewormers, flea and tick treatments and sterilisations were not permitted.
“The high number of puppy infections and deaths could be as a result of them not being vaccinated when they were supposed to be. We have also seen an influx of puppies and kittens which could be an repercussion from sterilisations not being performed,” says du Plessis.
The organisation’s Parvo isolation unit, which only caters for 7 pets at a time, is full to the brim. As a result they have had to change their Distemper isolation unit into a temporary Parvo unit too. They have also had to place cages outside the units for extra patients.
One such pet is Fuzzy, a puppy who was admitted by his owner for having diarrhea and not eating. Fuzzy has been in the clinic’s hospital for five days. He is receiving daily treatment but his condition varies from day to day.
“Just as he starts looking better, he drops again. This is the severity of the parvo virus. The fatality rate largely depends on how soon after infection the owners admit their pets,” says du Plessis.
The parvo influx has put even more strain on their funding. It costs a minimum of R1500 to treat one parvo patient.
If you would like to support the Mdzananda Animal Clinic with a donation, please contact them on [email protected], 021 367 6001.
Their banking details for donations are:
Mdzananda Animal Clinic
Bank: Standard Bank
Branch Code: 025009
Account number: 075595710
Reference: Parvo +Your Name