Parvo at Macon-Bibb shelter leads to euthanization, quarantine

10 puppies put down after several get sick

jgaines@macon.comJanuary 30, 2014 

A parvo outbreak has put the Macon-Bibb County animal shelter under quarantine for 14 days, and it required 10 puppies to be euthanized Thursday.

Animal Welfare Director Sarah Tenon said a puppy taken by a rescue group last Friday began to show symptoms of the virus Saturday, leading to a 72-hour watch on the rest of the shelter’s puppies. But another pup showed signs of parvo Tuesday, and more were sick by Thursday, Tenon said.

“Once you have that second positive, you go from the 72-hour watch to the 14-day quarantine period,” she said.

Parvo is highly contagious and lethal to young dogs, causing diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and fever. Adult dogs usually aren’t affected, Tenon said. But “99 percent” of the animals the shelter receives haven’t been vaccinated, so an outbreak can occur fast, she said.

It can spread particularly easily in the winter, when puppies are kept in close quarters to stay warm, Tenon said.

“The heat is like a breeding ground for parvo to spread,” she said.

Animal Welfare staff hope the outbreak is contained in the adoption and intake areas; those parts of the shelter are closed to the public until Feb. 13, Tenon said. The incubation period for parvo is two weeks.

No animals will be accepted by the shelter during the quarantine period, and only animals kept in the long run area will be adopted out during that time, according to a news release from Chris Floore, Macon-Bibb County public affairs director.

Any pending adoptions will be rescheduled if the dogs are unaffected, he said.

Previous outbreaks of parvo led to quarantines and euthanizing puppies at the shelter several times over the past few years, including October 2009, August 2011, August 2012, September 2012 and July 2013.

Tenon urges all dog owners to get their dogs vaccinated. Even if they never come near the shelter, it can be spread by any contact with strays, she said.

To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.

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