Parvovirus is a serious viral infection that dogs can pass on to other dogs. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, dogs with clinical parvo symptoms may die from the infection within 72 hours without immediate treatment.
Dogs cannot pass canine parvo to humans, but people may suffer from a type of parvovirus exclusive to humans. Likewise, cats cannot get parvovirus from dogs. The feline virus responsible for parvo is not the same virus causing canine parvovirus.
Dogs typically pick up parvovirus when they lick or sniff the feces of an infected dog. Once the virus is ingested, it begins invading cells in the dog's throat tissues. From there, the virus enters the bloodstream and starts attacking cells in the dog's bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines.
In some cases, the parvovirus forces certain bacteria that normally live in the dog's intestines to cross over into the bloodstream. This can lead to a serious condition called SIRS, or systemic inflammatory response syndrome. SIRS causes the rapid formation of blood clots, difficulty breathing, and blood infection.
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