Dog vaccine offered after jump in killer parvovirus cases
A huge increase in cases of a deadly dog virus has led to special vaccination clinics being organised.
The move came after cases of canine parvovirus, a gastrointestinal disease that can kill, more than tripled over the last month.
As reported earlier this month by The Royal Gazette, veterinarians said they had seen about 60 cases of sick dogs and puppies compared to 17 infections logged in July.
Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, said: “The clinics' focus is to vaccinate all unvaccinated dogs to stop the spread of the virus and put an end to this outbreak.
"To achieve this, we encourage all owners of unvaccinated dogs – whether legal, illegal, licensed or unlicensed – to take advantage of this opportunity.“
More than 90 per cent of dogs affected have been unvaccinated pitbulls and pitbull crosses, although all breeds are vulnerable.
Affected animals are mostly young, unvaccinated puppies and adolescent dogs, but adult animals have also become ill.
The ministry and Bermuda Veterinary Association will run the first clinic at the Bull’s Head car park in Hamilton on Sunday between 9am and 1pm.
The BVA will also hold clinics in the East and West Ends with times and locations to be announced.
Mr Roban said that some dog owners may be reluctant to seek help because their dogs were unlicensed.
He emphasised: “Animal wardens will not be present at the clinics and we will not question you on the legality of your animals."
Veterinarians last month warned of a potential outbreak of canine parvovirus, a gastrointestinal disease that can be fatal within a few days, after about 17 puppies and dogs were reported sick.
Dogs taken to the clinic will be assessed for suitability for the shots, which will cost $25.
A follow-up clinic for booster shots will be held at the same site on September 19.
Owners with dogs which are pregnant or experiencing vomiting, diarrhoea or lethargy should not take them to the clinic, but visit a vet’s surgery instead.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said no vaccine was 100 per cent effective, but that it was the safest and most effective way to protect dogs against parvovirus.
She added: “These vaccination clinics are being made possible through the efforts of numerous veterinarians and veterinary assistants from each veterinary practice, and countless people from the SPCA and the island's various dog clubs.
“All of them will volunteer their time and energy to create these opportunities.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs extends a huge ‘thank you’ to all involved.”
• For more information, contact Animal Control at 239-2327 or e-mail email@example.com