An outbreak of canine parvovirus, a highly infectious disease that can be deadly for dogs, has struck the Antelope Valley and appears to be getting worse, Los Angeles County officials said.
In the first four months of this year, there have been 162 cases of parvovirus in Los Angeles County, 70 of them in Lancaster and Palmdale alone, according to the county Department of Animal Care and Control. Of those, half were logged in the last month, meaning that the rate of infection is increasing. Puppies are the most common victims.
“It’s springtime, you get a lot of newborns during that time and there’s an increase in susceptible hosts,” said Maria Sabio-Solacito, the head veterinarian for animal care and control. “Out there, once you have a stray dog in the desert you don’t know what can happen.”
No information was available on how many of the infected animals have died.
Parvovirus infections don't sicken humans but can kill dogs. What's worse, the virus can survive for months or years on surfaces and can be easily spread by humans with their hands and feet.
Animals shed the virus in their bodily fluids and should receive routine vaccinations as puppies. Adult animals can also be vaccinated through multiple shots.
Parvovirus incubates for four to 14 days before symptoms like fever, anorexia, lethargy, dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea emerge. Unvaccinated dogs should be kept out of public areas.
The county holds twice-monthly vaccination treatments at its Lancaster office, 5210 W. Avenue I.
Vaccination days are scheduled for Sunday, and May 25, June 8 and 22, and July 6 and 20.
To look up dates beyond July go to www.animalcare.lacounty.gov The vaccination costs $14.