Can Humans Get Parvo From Dogs?

Parvovirus is often deadly to puppies. Humans can develop parvovirus as well, but the outcome is generally mild. Can humans get parvo from dogs? The answer is no. Can dogs get parvo from humans? The answer is yes, although the parvovirus strains affecting the two species differ. Canine parvo is so contagious that humans can spread it from one dog to another by petting a contagious dog and then handling an unvaccinated animal.

Parvovirus in Dogs

Parvo was not identified in dogs until the 1970s. Canines are vulnerable to parvovirus strains CPV-2a and CPV-2b. These strains spread between dogs via direct contact or exposure to contaminated feces. Animals exposed to parvo start shedding virus within four to five days. Puppies are the most susceptible to serious illness. The fatality rate is as high as 80 percent in untreated puppies. Most will die within the first 48 to 72 hours after symptoms develop.

Saving a puppy suffering from parvo is an intensive and expensive process. There is no cure, only supportive care. Expect the dog to spend at least a week in the hospital. During that time, they receive intravenous fluids, antibiotics, and medication to control gastrointestinal distress.

Signs of parvovirus in dogs include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Lethargy

A puppy with parvo is obviously very sick. Parvo attacks and destroys the small intestine. Older dogs contracting the disease sometimes show mild or no symptoms. However, they can spread it to other canines.

The good news is that a vaccine against parvo is part of basic puppy shots, known as DHPP for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, and Parvo. The offspring of vaccinated mothers inherit antibodies which should keep them safe from parvo for the first 6 weeks of life.

Puppies receive their initial vaccination at the age of 6 weeks, followed by boosters at 8 and 12 weeks. They are not fully protected until receiving that third shot. Do not let your puppy come into contact with unvaccinated dogs until that time. Puppies should receive another parvo vaccination at about four months of age to boost immunity.

Parvovirus in Humans

Parvo in people primarily affects children. In humans, the B19 parvovirus strain is the culprit.

Symptoms of parvo in humans mimic those of the flu or stomach “bugs.” Fever, headache, and upset stomach are telltale clues differentiating parvo from similar conditions. Parvo presents with a distinctive facial rash.

Adults may come down with parvo. Their symptoms vary from those in youngsters, and may consist predominantly of joint pain.

How Humans Spread Parvo to Dogs

Here’s a typical scenario for a person inadvertently spreading parvo to a dog. It starts with contact with an infected dog, even a simple stroking of the head. The person then touches a puppy or unvaccinated dog.

How to prevent such a potentially tragic outcome? Keep your dog current on vaccinations. Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands thoroughly after touching any dog. If you have a puppy, never allow your pet to spend time around any dogs that are unvaccinated or whose vaccination status is uncertain until he receives all of his immunizations. Keep him away from the feces of other dogs while on walks.

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