Two dogs at SPCA contract dangerous virus

Jeanette Tan

The Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has temporarily stopped taking in stray dogs or cats after two dogs at its shelter in Mount Vernon fell ill to a dangerous virus.

The animal welfare group said on its website and Facebook page on Tuesday that two dogs housed in its quarantine and holding area were confirmed to be suffering from canine parvovirus, and that it would not be taking in new dogs until danger of contagion had been cleared.

On Wednesday, it expanded the ban to cats since felines are vulnerable to a variant of the virus.

Canine parvovirus mainly affects dogs, and can exist on a wide range of objects – from blades of grass to drinking water bowls – should a dog carrying the virus (a “carrier”) come into contact with such things. The virus is then undetectable in dogs that contract it until symptoms such as lethargy, vomiting, fever and bloody diarrhoea manifest themselves, by which time aggressive treatment is required.

If untreated, dogs suffering from canine parvovirus will almost certainly die from it, although studies done have shown that survival rates rise to between 80 and 95 per cent with aggressive therapy.

For these reasons, the SPCA is not taking any chances.

“The SPCA is presently not accepting dogs from the public until its veterinarians are certain that the virus has not spread to other dogs in the SPCA’s quarantine and holding areas and until disinfection of its kennels is complete,” the society said in its announcement.

The announcement added, however, that the SPCA is still accepting injured dogs and cats for medical treatment.

SPCA’s executive director Corinne Fong told Yahoo! Singapore that measures to reduce the presence of the parvovirus have been taken at the shelter, and its staff are working to thoroughly disinfect its dog kennels and quarantine areas.

She maintained that both dogs affected by the parvovirus are still alive, and are being treated and monitored for their infections. The society is still working out how these two incidents could have occurred, she said.

In the meantime, Fong advised that all dog and cat owners ensure that their pets receive their regular vaccinations as doing so will vastly reduce their pets’ chances of getting infected by the virus.