(WKBN) — There is concern about parvovirus spreading through the Valley and infecting dogs, whether it’s a beloved household companion or a stray on the street. But what about cats? First News takes a look at parvovirus and what you need to know.

A healthy dog is active. Parvovirus makes a dog lethargic, and it is dangerous. The virus causes vomiting, fever and severe diarrhea. If you see any of these symptoms in a dog, act fast.

“You don’t want to waste time on that — you want to get them to the doctor,” says Mahoning County Dog Warden Dianne Fry.

Dogs get parvovirus by coming into direct contact with another infected dog, or by sniffing an infected dog’s feces.

“This is almost a little bit early for it to show up, but it’s showing up and we’re getting a lot of feedback that it is spreading through the community,” Fry says. “It’s highly, highly contagious.”

A rabies vaccine is required in Mahoning County, but a parvo shot is not. The illness normally makes its rounds in the spring, but a couple dogs showing symptoms of it are in quarantine at the Dog Warden’s office.

Those dogs will be kept away from others for two weeks. Parvovirus spreads quickly among animals which are not vaccinated against it. The dog warden is concerned that people who find a stray dog, may not realize it has parvovirus, and infect another dog.

“Please bring that dog you find to the pound so that we can take the proper protocols and make sure that this doesn’t go farther than it needs to,” Fry says.

Parvo can potentially be fatal, but survival rates can be high if caught early.
The best defense is a smart owner who gets their dog vaccinated.

“That is your first line of defense. Call your veterinarian, make sure that your dog is current on the distemper Parvo vaccine,” Fry says.

There are different types of parvovirus. Dogs get the virus which only affects dogs. Cats only gets the virus which affects cats.