It could be worse!


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There has been a fair bit of media coverage of a ‘new’ strain of parvo-virus affecting Australian dogs and this is something I wrote about in our May newsletter. Following the release of a new research paper, the Australian Veterinary Association sent members a warning about the dangers of this new strain of what is a deadly disease.  The paper had suggested that this was a brand new strain and that our current vaccinations were not protective against the disease. According to the research paper, there were a number of confirmed cases, including two affected dogs in South Australia. 

As it turns out (and much to our relief), it turns out that this was somewhat of a false alarm on all counts. It appears that the research paper was either flawed or mis-represented on several counts. In fact the strain of virus is one that we’ve been aware of for some time. This strain is actually covered by our current vaccinations and our ‘in-clinic’ tests will actually detect the disease in most cases. (the same applies to all strains of parvovirus). 

My apologies to any clients who’ve been unduly alarmed by our article in the May newsletter. The good news, however, is that you can rest assured that our current vaccination protocol is effective and protective!

When discussing this with our staff, it occurred to me that, even if this had been a new strain of parvovirus, it should be taken in perspective. By comparison with many other areas and countries, what we’re facing could be far worse on a number of counts. 

For example, in South Australia, we don’t have to worry about tick paralysis, which affects many dogs on the Eastern seaboard. The numbers of affected heartworm patients (both cats and dogs) is much smaller than our interstate populations such as Queensland and the NT. I had a discussion, recently, with a vet in Geraldton, WA, who told me that Feline AIDS is endemic in their area. There are many more cases of skin disease in the more tropical climates (interstate and abroad).  At the moment, there is no rabies in Australia but in many countries around the world, this awful disease is endemic. As a veterinary student in Canada, I was warned that every unusual case should be treated as rabies until proven otherwise. We were also obliged to have rabies vaccinations ourselves as the disease is readily transmissible to humans (and fatal in a very unpleasant fashion). I could go on but you get the general idea. 

On top of this, a friend just came back from a visit to Zimbabwe and told me that the unemployment rate there is approximately 85% (we think 6 or 7% is bad). Likewise, we’re hearing almost every day of a real or attempted terrorist attack somewhere around the world. I’m not going to even start on the situation in America and some of the recent decisions coming from there (often announced by means of Twitter!)!! 

Much as we’d hate to see any additional cases of parvovirus, or any other disease affecting our pets, it does give me cause to reflect that we’re actually pretty well off here in South Australia! We’re safe and most of us have a decent standard of living. Our pets are generally very well cared for and live a good life. We’re not at war and most of us are not under any direct threat. It really could be worse!! 

If anyone would like more information or clarification on the parvovirus situation, please feel free to call us or drop in. The bottom line, however, is that, if you keep giving annual vaccinations to your dogs, they should be well protected.


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