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Quarantine still in place at CPHS

A quarantine remains in place at the Central Pennsylvania Humane Society after it took in a stray dog last week that became sick with a virus.
The dog was taken in from the city of Altoona on Sunday, Aug. 13, showed signs of parvovirus and had become extremely ill by last Saturday. CPHS’s operations director Ingrid Healy said the dog “was lethargic, was laying down and could not get up.”
She said the dog had blood in its stool and a distinct foul odor associated with parvovirus. A test was done that came back positive for parvo, according to Healy. She said the dog was “on death’s door” and was euthanized.
She said parvo is a canine virus that attacks rapidly dividing cells in the digestive system, which attacks the intestines. Healy said it can also damage the heart and causes severe dehydration.
“The parvo virus spreads through any traces of feces,” said Healy. “We are doing our normal and strict protocol for cleaning the kennels. In addition to that, we’ve added the sidewalks and the paths to the outdoor runs because that’s grass. We are using a bleached solution on the grass and the sidewalks too.
“The virus can live six to nine months or even a year on a blade of grass,” said Healy. “So even during the harshest winter, parvo can survive and can infect a dog in the spring.”
She explained the reason the organization decided to put the quarantine into effect.
“It should be standard protocol for any humane society or any facility that houses dogs,” said Healy.
“We decided that it is in our best interests to protect our remaining dogs and also the public’s animals,” said Healy. “The purpose of the quarantine is because it is so easily transmitted. We want to observe all of our dogs because the incubation for parvo once (a dog is) in contact with it is about 10 days.
“We vaccinate all incoming dogs, and that has always been our practice, it’s not just because of this parvo situation,” said Healy. “It’s been a practice for many, many years.”
Healy said the dog was exposed to the virus before it arrived at the shelter in Greenwood. She said both the virus and the vaccine take about the same amount of time to have an effect on a dog, “so it’s which ever one can get to the dog first.”
She noted during the quarantine, “the shelter is not closed for business.”
During the quarantine, the public is prohibited from entering the kennels or the puppy room. The virus is not a threat to people or other animals.
“We don’t want people taking anything out of here if there was a problem,” said Healy. “We don’t want people bringing something in here because we don’t want to start a new problem.”
If a stray is brought in to the shelter, the owner may reclaim it, but Healy said they would be advised about the situation and to watch their dog for two weeks for any sign of illness. If a retrieved dog shows any signs then a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.
“We can not take responsibility for their dog being stray or not being vaccinated prior to the shelter doing a vaccination,” said Healy.
She said parvo is more likely to affect puppies because they don’t have a fully developed immune system. She said the infected dog was an adult, but because it was a stray there is no way to know if the dog had been vaccinated. She said had the dog been vaccinated, it “might have been able to survive or get through it better, but we’ll never know for sure.”
Healy also offered these suggestions for dog owners.
“Follow your veterinarian’s advice on vaccinations,” said Healy. “The shelter receives a lot of stray dogs, (so) please put an identification tag on your dog. If it’s at night or a weekend we can’t call the courthouse or the city to trace a dog license to the owner. (Also), the person who finds your dog can even call you before it even has to come to the shelter.”
The quarantine is expected to remain in effect until at least Monday. For more information, the public can contain CPHS at 942-5402.