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Deadly pet virus found in Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge

Lorea McCready walks her four-year-old golden retriever Sammie along a dike at the north end of 216th Street Thursday in Maple Ridge. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Lorea McCready walks her four-year-old golden retriever Sammie along a dike at the north end of 216th Street Thursday in Maple Ridge.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The spread of the canine parvovirus recently has killed four dogs in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows while another four have survived the disease.

“Parvovirus is a killer, especially with puppies,” Maple Ridge branch manager Mark Vosper said Thursday.

The virus is highly contagious and one of the deadliest diseases for dogs, the SPCA said in a release.

However, dog owners can reduce the chances of that by ensuring their pets get their annual vaccines, which include prevention for parvovirus.

People not picking up after their dogs is one of the main causes of the diseases because pets that follow can ingest the dog feces by either walking in it or getting some on their nose or fur.

The virus isn’t considered harmful to people.

If the feces isn’t picked up, it can live for months outside, while indoors, the parvovirus can live on carpets, rugs, furniture and even food containers. Washing with bleach helps, says the SPCA.

The virus attacks the digestive system causing strong-smelling diarrhea with traces of blood and mucous. Vomiting can also be a symptom while both can lead to heart failure or dehydration. Dogs can also lose their appetites and be listless.

Two of the four dogs died directly from the disease, while the other two were euthanized because of the severity of the symptoms.

Vosper pointed out that picking up waste from your pet dog is a bylaw requirement.

“The main source of the virus is from feces of infected dogs, so we cannot stress enough how important it is for pet guardians to pick up after their dogs,” he said in a release.

Many of the riverfront and dike trails in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows used to be littered with dog waste from people who didn’t pick up after their pets.

But people now seem to be picking up after their dogs in those areas, said Kelly Swift, parks and recreation services general manager.

The district also provides doggie bags on the dike trails.

“I think the culture has changed. I wouldn’t say that it’s perfect,” Swift said.

The district is getting lots of positive feedback from the off-leash areas, she added.

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