Free parvo vaccinations as cases rise

Headshot of Adam Poulsen
Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
Email Adam Poulsen

Animal welfare agencies will offer free vaccinations to try to arrest an alarming surge in lethal canine parvovirus cases in Geraldton.

The free vaccinations will be available for dogs owned by holders of Centrelink concession and WA Senior Citizen cards.

Midwest Veterinarian Centre practice manager Ebony Massoto said there had been 30 cases of the highly contagious and incurable virus over a week.

“It has just become uncontrollable, we’ve already had over 120 fatal cases this year,” Ms Massoto said.

“Unfortunately, more than 80 per cent of affected dogs have had to be euthanised.”

Ms Massoto said there was a misconception dogs were safe once they had their initial booster as a puppy.

“Puppies need their first vaccine between the six to eight-week mark, and then they need a second booster four weeks after that, then their final puppy booster four weeks after that, and from that third booster it’s every year for the rest of their life,” she said.

She likened parvovirus to “the worst possible gastro you can imagine, with an extremely high mortality rate”.

“There is no cure, there is only prevention through vaccination, and once a dog has it, there’s only supportive therapy treatment — there’s no magic tablet or vaccine that can fix it,” she said.

“The cost of a vaccine is between $90 and $115, versus up to $3500 worth of treat-ment if they contract parvo, with no guarantee that they’ll actually survive — so it’s a no-brainer to vaccinate.”

Even before this year’s outbreaks, Geraldton had a reputation as one of Australia’s worst parvovirus hotspots.

Midwest Veterinary Centre practice owner and veterinarian Dr Peter Taylor said parvovirus was spread by oral or nasal contact with the faeces of infected dogs or contaminated objects.

“It’s extremely resistant in the environment and can survive on objects like clothing, shoes and the floor for seven months or longer,” Dr Taylor said.

In addition, the virus can survive for up to two years in contaminated soil.

The free vaccinations, organised by Geraldton Dog Rescue and Central Regional TAFE with the help of veterinarian clinics in Geraldton, will be available on Wednesday, October 4.

Centrelink concession and WA Senior Citizen card holders will also be offered free microchipping for their dogs.

Anyone interested will need to register by calling or texting 0427566112 or emailing skye.strutton@crtafe.wa.edu.au where they will receive time and location details.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails