Parvo Transmission by Human Hand

The Parvo Outbreak, Ocean Shores (aka P.O.O.) continues to hit the fan, having now infected 8 and killed 2. It’s over two months since a newly-purchased pup carried the virus into the area. The disease then swept through his canine social sphere, landing 4 in hospital on  IV fluids for weeks. From a public health perspective, however, the 3 most recent cases are a little more alarming.


Surprisingly, we have continued to see new cases roll-in, months after the initial alarm was raised.  Many pet owners, lulled into complacency by the 7-year parvo holiday we’ve all enjoyed since the last confirmed local case, have been getting their vaccination boosters up-to-date, but there remain a resistant few whose dogs continue to drop.

The local vets could also be accused of relaxing too. Both Billinudgel and Mullumbimby vets have had to order extra testing kits, and dust-off long idle isolation wards handed over to storage. Plans to redesign hospitals, minus this seemingly redundant space, can be shelved. Young staff, inexperienced in managing Parvo patients, have received crash courses in infectious disease management: religious footbaths, hand disinfection, and strategic cleaning.

The most recent 3 cases demonstrate the degree of contagiousness of the Parvo that make it famous. Vets are quizzing owners of recent cases, scrutinising the pets recent history for clues of infection source.  Some recent cases:

Case 1. Dog owner attends party at the home of one of the original 5 dogs, weeks after recovery.  Thoughtfully leaving her dog at home, the virus is unwittingly carried on hand or shoe of owner, infecting her dog that has no social contact with others.

Case 2. Dog attends vet hospital for routine desexing surgery the same day a parvo patient is discharged.  Ten days later, dog develops typical symptoms of  vomting and diarrihoea. Whether this is a case of hospital transmission, an unlucky brief encounter in waiting room or car park,  or coincidental  with public-space transmission (Case 3 below) we’ll never know.

Case 3. Equally disturbing, one infected dog had no known contact with any other infected  animal or it’s  home environment. This may be the first case or public-space transmission, like beach, park or street, or a more cryptic source.  Us humans most notoriously spread disease on doorhandles, public keypads (autotellers and phones), on cash, and during food preparation.


  • Dogs do not continue to shed parvovirus on recovery and the virus transmitted at the party (Case 1) would have been from infectious vomit or diarrhoea superficially cleaned up weeks previously, before the dog presented at hospital.
  • Until we get a nice, hot, dry spell, Parvo will continue to live on moist, porous surfaces. The virus lays where it falls, in vomit or diarrhoea,  even if the mess is hosed away. View this contamination as a spill of paint: imagine the mess as family members and guests stomp footprints of Parvo all over the property and further afieild.  Intially clean sufaces with regular agents, followed with disinfection by bleach soaking.
  • Even if your dog only hangs at home, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility Parvo may not arrive, home-delivery, courtesy of shoes or hands.
  • Just as us humans run the risk of catching swine-flu or rotavirus when attending hospital, nosocomial infections can happen in the veterinary setting.   While vets take every precaution, it’s impossible to eliminate all risk, and keeping your antisocial dog’s  inoculations up-to-date may serve him well if  some other medical matter lands him in hospital during an outbreak. This is why some vets refuse to hospitalise animals without current vaccinations.

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One Response to “Parvo Transmission by Human Hand”

  1. VOS says:

    Hi Matt;
    Human Hospitals are also iatogenic and nosocomal.
    Pig flu is rampant!
    Not just zoological/homo sapian transmission!

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