CREATED Jan. 31, 2013 - UPDATED: Feb. 1, 2013
LEE COUNTY - A deadly dog disease hitting epidemic proportions in Lee County. Animal service officers say parvo is on the rise and once a dog contracts the virus its chances of survival are slim to none. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason has more on what you can do to protect your pooch.
Mike Mason: "Here at Animal Services officers are very concerned because parvo usually doesn't show up until the summer but already this year they're seeing an alarming number of cases.
Mike Mason: "So this could indicate that it could become an epidemic.”
Andrea Rothwell: "Yes, it could be."
Dog owners know how important it is to get their dogs vaccinated for rabies....but parvo can be even more insidious.
Andrea Rothwell: “It's highly, highly contagious and it's easily transmitted, it's transmitted with direct or indirect contact with feces."
The virus is deadly, dogs infected with parvo often die within just a few days.
Andrea Rothwell: "It's very painful, their whole intestinal tract is just breaking down and then it dies a horrible excruciating death."
The parvo virus can live in the soil for more than a year so anytime a dog goes outside or plays in the grass, it could be digging up trouble.
Ria Brown: "Not that we want to discourage people from taking their dogs out in the community we just want them to make sure they're vaccinated so when they are out they're protected."
Owners should have puppies vaccinated for parvo when they're between 6 to 8 weeks old.
Mike Mason: "After that, your vet will determine how often you should vaccinate your dog, usually every 1 to 3 years. I get my dogs vaccinated every year since they're often exposed to dog parks and other public places."
Once a dog is infected with parvo, chances of survival are slim and if you do choose treatment it's very expensive.
Andrea Rothwell: "It costs thousands and it's a very poor survival rate."
The parvo vaccine only costs about $25. Not only could it save you money down the road, it could also save the life of your best friend.....for many it's already too late.
Ria Brown: "We really shouldn't be seeing this many of them this early on so it's unusual and we want to get the word out now."
Mike Mason: "Here at the county shelter they do treat every dog for parvo and they urge everyone out there to have their dog vaccinated.