New test can diagnose emerging strains of canine parvovirus

Nov 07, 2013
The Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has developed a diagnostic test that can detect emerging strains of canine parvovirus, a severe -- and potentially fatal -- virus that affects dogs. Credit: Kansas State University Photo Services

A new test developed at the Kansas State University Diagnostic Laboratory is leading to earlier detection of a severe —- and potentially fatal—virus that affects dogs, especially puppies.

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious worldwide disease that involves both domestic and wild canines. It can be fatal in immunocompromised dogs or puppies that have not yet been vaccinated, said Richard Oberst, professor of diagnostic medicine and director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The molecular diagnostics team has developed a newer, more effective that can detect an emerging 2c strain of the virus while simultaneously detecting existing 2a and 2b strains.

"Canine parvovirus is a very severe disease," Oberst said. "Usually dogs who have canine parvovirus are already immune suppressed, not only because of their young age and having immature immune systems, but also because of having intestinal parasites."

Canine parvovirus causes hemorrhagic enteritis resulting in several days after exposure to the virus. It spreads from dog to dog through contact with feces. The virus infects lymphocytes and causes immune suppression, Oberst said, but it also can cause dogs to bleed to death through their intestines.

A major worldwide parvovirus outbreak occurred in the 1970s and involved a pathogenic form of the virus that killed many dogs. Since the 1970s, the virus has evolved into the type 2a and type 2b strains found around the world, Oberst said. A type 2c has recently emerged, too.

"While parvovirus doesn't seem to be causing quite the same widespread outbreaks that we saw in the 1970s, a lot of dogs are still infected and coming down with the disease," Oberst said.

Often, survival rates depend on how quickly and accurately the virus is detected. Commercial tests for veterinarians are not as effective at detecting newer strains of the 2c virus, Oberst said, and have resulted in some false negative results.

Jianfa Bai, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine, and collaborators at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test to detect the 2c virus strain and the 2a and 2b strains. While the has been able to test for the 2a and 2b strains for years, the new test extends the laboratory's capabilities to quickly and accurately detect canine parvovirus.

"With this test we can now test all strains simultaneously and differentiate which strains of the virus might actually be causing the infection," Oberst said. "That's a unique aspect to this test."

While canine parvovirus is a severe disease, the good news for dog owners is that the disease is preventable through vaccinations, Oberst said. Getting a dog in a vaccination program as soon as possible is the best way to prevent spreading the virus.

"It's totally preventable if the dogs are immune competent and have gotten into a vaccine program at an early age before they can become exposed to the virus," Oberst said. "That's why getting dogs vaccinated and getting their immune systems ready for exposure to parvovirus is very important."

Young dogs—usually 6-16 weeks old—are more likely to show symptoms, Oberst said, because they have not yet been vaccinated or are immunocompromised. Parvovirus symptoms among dogs include fever, bloody diarrhea or lethargy.

If pet owners suspect their dog has canine parvovirus, they should talk with their veterinarian, Oberst said. He recommends that pet owners separate the dog from healthy dogs so that the virus doesn't spread. He also recommends using bleach to disinfect surfaces of which the parvovirus-infected dog may have come into contact.

While the does not infect humans, the researchers are seeing that parvovirus can infect cats, but not necessarily with the severe clinical problems found in . Oberst said further studies are needed to learn more about the feline strain.

Explore further: Dog parks offer fun, but veterinarian says a few precautions can make visits even better

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dogs know a left-sided wag from a right

Oct 31, 2013

You might think a wagging tail is a wagging tail, but for dogs there is more to it than that. Dogs recognize and respond differently when their fellow canines wag to the right than they do when they wag to ...

Scientists put a pox on dog cancer

Sep 10, 2012

Researchers report that myxoma – a pox virus that afflicts rabbits but not humans, dogs or any other vertebrates so far studied – infects several different types of canine cancer cells in cell culture while sparing healthy ...

Canine influenza was around as early as 1999

Mar 18, 2008

The canine influenza virus, first identified in 2004, had been circulating in the greyhound population for at least five years prior to its discovery and may have been responsible for numerous outbreaks of respiratory disease ...

Recommended for you

Male monkey filmed caring for dying mate (w/ Video)

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —The incident was captured by Dr Bruna Bezerra and colleagues in the Atlantic Forest in the Northeast of Brazil.  Dr Bezerra is a Research Associate at the University of Bristol and a Professor ...

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

Apr 17, 2014

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

Apr 17, 2014

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

Apr 17, 2014

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.