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New test can diagnose emerging strains of canine parvovirus

ng 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 diagnostic laboratory 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 virus does not infect humans, the researchers are seeing that parvovirus can infect cats

Contact: Richard Oberst
Kansas State University

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