PARVOVIRUS CPV-2c the "new strain" May 8, 2017 17:26

VaccineThere has been some media coverage recently of a “new “ strain of parvovirus that has been identified in Australia, that is causing pet owners a lot of concern.

Let’s talk about it so you know the facts and can keep your babies safe!

Canine parvovirus (CPV) has been around for a while now. I personally have diagnosed many patients with it, and the majority of them have not survived. Most of those diagnoses were right at the beginning of my career, but unfortunately there has been a resurgence in numbers recently as some people have become complacent about the need to vaccinate.


The symptoms usually start off with lethargy and a drop in appetite, followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, often with blood in it, and severe depression. Our treatment options are limited to supportive care – rehydration and electrolyte management, pain relief, nursing care and cleaning, antibiotics if secondary bacterial infections become involved. It is a really harsh disease and even those that are treated, and manage to survive, go through pure misery until their own bodies start to respond and fight the virus. So yes, vaccinating against this virus is a must.
The strain causing alarm is CPV-2c. I have heard reports stating that your regular vaccines won’t cover against this strain, so pet owners feel helpless and scared. As often happens when the media is involved, there is a degree of dramatization and scare mongering happening here.

First, let’s get one thing clear, this is NOT a new strain. It has been overseas for many years. It was identified in Italy in 2000 – that’s 17 years ago. It was in USA in 2008. It is only new to Australia. However, it’s not even all that new – we are talking about 2 years, and experts feel likely longer. We don’t identify the actual strain involved in most cases – it is technically difficult and expensive and has little impact on the treatment options or outcome. So it could have been present here for quite a few years before that.

Secondly, there are vaccines that have been tested and proven to cover against infection with the CPV-2c strain. Yay! You don’t need to panic. The brand that we regularly use, which is the Nobivac DHP, was tested for this in 2008, and showed that it covered against this strain. The exact same vaccine that we are using has been used in Europe and the USA for many years, where this strain has been known to be present, and has been doing its job. It will do its job in Australia too. Not all brands have been tested for this though – you need to have a chat with your regular vet about what brand your pets have received. Remember no vaccine is perfect. There will be occasional pets that don’t respond to a vaccine. This is inevitable and normal, and relates to their immune system. The safeguard for these dogs is for all the other dogs around them to be vaccinated too, to protect them from exposure. It’s called “herd immunity”.

So while it's been a bit more dramatic in some reports than necessary, I'm happy to have some media attention on parvovirus again. It reminds people not to be complacent, and gives me the opportunity to tell all the loving pet families out there to make sure you keep your pet's vaccinations up to date!

Dr Amy Coles