Parvovirus is a life threatening virus which attacks canine white blood cells and causes damage to the intestinal tract. If this virus is contracted at a young age, it can permanently damage the heart. It is highly contagious, because it can be transmitted by any person, animal, or object which has come into contact with the feces of an infected dog. Worse, the virus can stay live on inanimate objects such as carpet and food bowls for months. While any dog can contract parvovirus, certain breeds- American Staffordshire Terriers, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, and Labrador Retrievers- are more at risk.
Symptoms of Parvovirus include loss of appetite, lethargy, severe vomiting, and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea. Treatment, which involves aggressive actions to keep the patient hydrated and strengthen the immune system, must take place at a veterinary hospital. An infected dog will be given antibiotics, intravenous fluids, and medicine to control vomiting.
Unfortunately, the nature of Parvovirus is so severe that treatment is successful only about 40 percent of the time. Although there are currently no approved drugs to treat Parvovirus on the market, a Minnesota biotech company is testing a product that offers hope for one in the near future. Avianax has developed a product made of goose antibodies, and used it to successfully treat several puppies and one adult dog suffering from Parvovirus. So far, the dogs who have been diagnosed early on with the virus recovered within 24 hours of receiving the goose antibodies.
Avianax has recently received a permit from the United States Department of Agriculture to provide the treatment to veterinarians in Minnesota and North Dakota, who will being using it in a field trial. The company also plans to initiate a controlled study for wider data. They anticipate that once they have successfully treated 100 dogs with their product, they will be able to obtain a conditional permit to market it widely.