A national charity is calling on residents to urgently vaccinate their puppies and dogs, as a Parvovirus outbreak has swept through the region in the past month.
Paws For A Purpose CEO and veterinarian Mark Kelman said that local vets reported around 145 puppies and dogs struck down by the deadly disease across Tamworth, Manilla, Barraba, Bingara, Lightning Ridge and Coonamble.
Greencross South Tamworth has seen 30 cases resulting in 21 deaths, while Piper Street Vet in Tamworth has witnessed 25 cases including 10 deaths.
There have also been 30 cases at Manilla Vets and 10 at Bingara Vets.
Dr Kelman said these latest deaths were completely preventable and more could happen during autumn and winter if residents do not act quickly.
The charity identified the outbreak with its new Parvo surveillance system, which collects case reports from vets and will soon be in operation across the country.
“Even though we are just piloting our Parvo disease-surveillance-and-alerting program, it is already detecting major outbreaks of this horrific disease, including this one and another outbreak across Central Queensland,” he said.
"The recent rain across both regions seems to have brought on these outbreaks.
Scientific studies have shown an association between recent rain and Parvo outbreaks, however, we are not exactly sure why – one theory is that the rain might physically move the virus into contact with domestic dogs.
“With increasing numbers of puppies being infected right now with the virus, it shows that these pets have not been fully vaccinated. The highest risk is for puppies that have not had their 16-week vaccination, or are younger than 16 weeks and haven’t been vaccinated in the past month.” To prevent infection, all puppies must be vaccinated monthly from six weeks of age, until 16 weeks. Adult dogs in high-risk Parvo areas and during outbreaks should be re-vaccinated every year.
Signs of the disease are vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetence, lethargy, dehydration and sometimes blood in the dog’s faeces.
Anyone who thinks their dog might have Parvo must ring their veterinarian immediately for advice.