Published: May 16, 2010 8:04 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla.- Lee County Domestic Animal Services (LCDAS) field staff recently has seen an increase in stray dogs with parvo-virus. Pet owners are encouraged to vaccinate their pets for this deadly virus.  Vaccines are relatively inexpensive and can mean the difference between life and death.

“The parvo-virus is highly contagious, expensive to treat, and often fatal despite treatment,” warns LCDAS veterinarian, Peter Davis.
 
P.A.W.S. Lee County, a low-cost clinic located in North Fort Myers, has seen quite a few dogs with the illness recently.  “We took six calls over just one weekend,” reports P.A.W.S owner Theresa Ink, “and some of the dogs had never been to a vet.”  

Parvo-virus is spread from dog to dog by direct or indirect contact with their feces. It can be especially severe in puppies that are not protected by maternal antibodies or vaccination. The common signs are severe vomiting and diarrhea.  The virus can live in organic matter, such as soil, for over a year.  Victims of this virus die of dehydration as the virus attacks the intestinal lining. 
 
It is extremely important to animal shelters that the public vaccinate their pets, as these are the same pets that might end up at the shelter if they get lost.  LCDAS has taken a proactive role in the community and, as always, vaccinates all dogs entering the shelter against the parvo-virus.