GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — An outbreak of canine parvovirus has a Gwinnett County animal shelter quarantining dogs, not allowing new dogs in or current ones to leave.
Six dogs have already been infected by the virus, known to be painful for canines and very contagious. Officials say quarantines can last weeks.
The Gwinnett County Bill Atkison Animal Welfare Center is already near capacity.
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Shelter staff told Channel 2′s Gwinnett County Bureau Chief Matt Johnson that it’s putting a damper on adoptions for a lot of dogs looking for new homes.
“We are on strict quarantine, lockdown,” Vernon Sawyer, Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Division Director, said. “We’re trying to prevent the animals from going out to the community that may have been already infected with the parvovirus.”
Sawyer told Channel 2 Action News this was the second outbreak this year to impact the Gwinnett County shelter.
The staff who help care for the dogs must use foot baths to limit the spread of the virus every time they help a different animal. Employees have worked to contain the spread of the virus before more dogs are infected.
“It’s tough on my staff that’s caring for these animals day after day after day,” said Sawyer.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canine parvovirus can affect any dog, but dogs that are unvaccinated or puppies young than four months old are those facing the highest risk.
AVMA said, “The virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces, environments, or people.”
Signs that a dog may be infected with parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain or bloating, fever or low body temperature, and severe, often bloody, diarrhea.
Vomiting and diarrhea can also cause “rapid dehydration,” in dogs, as well as damage the intestines and immune system, causing septic shock, AVMA says.
“Our population reflects what’s going out in the community so it’s very important for people to vaccinate their pets,” Sawyer said. “The hope is that right now no other dogs are infected with the disease.”
Sawyer told Channel 2 Action News that the quarantine is currently set to be lifted on June 5.
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