Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious worldwide disease that involves both domestic and wild canines. It can be fatal in immuno-compromised dogs or puppies that have not been vaccinated.
The molecular diagnostics team led by Richard Oberst, Professor of diagnostic medicine, at the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University has developed a newer, more effective test that can detect an emerging 2c strain of the virus while also detecting the 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 bloody diarrhea 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 and it also can cause dogs to bleed to death through their intestines.
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.
The team has developed a real-time polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, test to detect the 2c virus strain and the 2a and 2b strains. “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.”
To send samples for testing at the diagnostic laboratory, dog owners are encouraged to work with their veterinarians, who can send samples to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University.