Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Deadly Parvovirus Strain Spreading in Australian Dogs

Vets and dog owners are being warned that canine parvovirus – a contagious and often fatal disease – is spreading rapidly among Australian dogs.

“Dog owners should vaccinate their pets against this insidious infection, and anyone who suspects their dogs might have the disease should have them treated or hospitalised without delay,” said Dr Nicholas Clark of the University of Queensland.

Parvovirus causes lethargy, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhoea, and can kill puppies and young dogs. It was first detected in the 1970s, and two new strains began circulating in the 1980s.

The UQ’s Small Animal Hospital has reported a spike in canine parvovirus cases in the local community, and scientists at UQ and Boehringer Ingelheim Pty Ltd have now discovered that a previously minor strain of parvovirus is expanding across Australia. “This is important because identifying various strains of the virus is a key to successful treatment,” Clark said.

“We need ongoing monitoring programs to detect new variants and make informed recommendations to develop reliable detection and vaccine methods.”

The research identifying emerging strains of parvovirus has been published in Infection, Genetics and Evolution.