UPDATED: February 22, 2021 09:47 IST
Kolkata is reeling under the threat of gastroenteritis caused by ‘canine parvovirus’ that has already affected several street dogs and pet dogs. As per reports, more than 250 street dogs, a majority of them pups, have been found dead in the last three days at Bishnupur in Bankura in West Bengal.
The virus is highly contagious and spreads quickly from one dog to another by direct or indirect contact through their faeces.
City veterinarians suspect that the recent rise in cases of parvovirus is due to the Covid-19 pandemic that compelled many pet owners to avoid timely vaccination of their dogs.
“Due to the pandemic, many dogs have not been vaccinated. This year, as vaccination is not completed on time, it is causing chaos. Another issue was the unavailability of vets for vaccination,” said Dr Subhash Sarkar, a veterinary doctor who has received a rush of parvovirus infected dogs in the past two months.
“Parvovirus is not a new disease and when it came to Kolkata, there was no vaccine,” Sarkar added.
While street dogs are not vaccinated, the upsurge in cases of parvovirus is likely to continue. As far as treatment goes, there is a serum that is costly but can help in treating dogs who have contracted parvovirus.
Another veterinary surgeon, Dr Gautam Mukherjee, says that parvovirus is usually contracted during seasonal change.
“Dogs who have been vaccinated against parvo will be much less affected by the virus if they contract it. Once a dog shows symptoms such as not eating food, excessive vomiting, diarrhoea, saline must be given to it. A medicine called parvo care should be given along with antibiotics when the vomiting stops,” said Mukherjee.
The symptoms of parvovirus are similar to cholera in humans such as loose motions, blood loss, dehydration, and, in severe cases, cardiac failure.
Dr Mukherjee also suggested keeping dogs indoors for two weeks, following their vaccination.
On the other hand, pet owners are maintaining all sorts of precautions in the wake of parvovirus. “My dog Muffin has been vaccinated against parvovirus. Despite the lockdown, her vaccination was given on time. We are taking necessary precautions from our side after reports of so many dogs in West Bengal dying because of the virus,” said Swapnil Banerjee, a pet owner.
Amid the fear of contraction of the parvovirus, pet owners have stopped taking their pets for walks for the time being.
“During the pandemic when everything was closed, I was following natural remedies like the vegan diet and then I got my dog vaccinated after the lockdown. I don’t take my dog, Fanny, out on the street. She usually goes to the terrace for a walk and exercise,” said Patrick Anthony, a professional who has found a way to protect his pet Fanny from street dogs.
The doctors, however, assured that the disease cannot be passed on to humans and is limited to dogs.