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Dog virus resurfaces in Bermuda

A dangerous and infectious virus that targets dogs has reappeared after a major outbreak swept through the island last summer.

Andrew Madeiros, of Ettrick Animal Hospital in Warwick, said canine parvovirus, which can cause serious illness or death in unvaccinated dogs, had been spotted again last week.

He added: “It’s the first case we’ve had for a while — we had seen it very, very rarely up until last summer with a big outbreak.

“It had a very sudden onset with maybe a couple of hundred dogs between all the vet practices over a three-month period before it went quiet.”

Vets last year organised a vaccine drive against the gastrointestinal virus, which hit unvaccinated pit bulls and pitbull cross breeds.

But the push to get as many dogs vaccinated as possible was hampered by a surge in Covid-19 cases last September.

Dr Madeiros said the latest flare-up of parvovirus would “more than likely” be a holdover from the previous outbreak.

He explained: “The virus can live in the environment for years under the right conditions.

“There was some suspicion that it may have been an imported dog that started the outbreak.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if there were still contaminated pockets here and there.”

Dr Madeiros said the return of warmer weather could have played a role, with “more people out and about”.

He added that it was a good time to “encourage people to get their dogs vaccinated, especially puppies”.

Dr Madeiros said it was “concerning” that many pet owners who took advantage of the vaccine clinics against parvovirus brought pure-bred dogs that likely already had been vaccinated.

He added: “I would say that a significant portion of owners of the dogs that would have been the target population for vaccination didn’t take advantage of it, which is a shame.

“What we saw the other day was a young pitbull around five months old who was not vaccinated. That’s unfortunately where you tend to see a lot of these cases.

“It rarely happens in pure-bred imported dogs because they come from a vaccinated background.

“It’s mostly the locally bred dogs that fall through the cracks.”

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Published March 16, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated March 16, 2022 at 7:53 am)

Dog virus resurfaces in Bermuda

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