Burnham resident urges dog owners to be vigilant over Parvovirus

A Burnham resident is urging fellow dog owners to be extra vigilant after her beloved Jack Russell had a near-fatal brush with parvovirus last week.

Kaye James was horrified when she witnessed her 19-month-old pup collapsing in the garden after suffering what she initially thought was an allergic reaction to a bee sting.

Affectionately known as Cwtch (Welsh for cuddle) the normally full of life white and brown dog became suddenly ill around midday on Friday, April 1.

“She started scratching her face and then rubbing it on the grass. I immediately thought it was a bee sting,” said Kaye.

“Then she staggered a bit, laid down and vomited. She crawled to her feet and vomited again and again and laid down.

“I rushed outside and she hadn’t moved. I picked her up and she just flopped lifeless in my arms. Rushing to a local vets all I could report to them what thought it could be: anaphylactic shock.

“Cwtch is a typical Jack Russell – tenacious, cheeky, hilarious – times that by a million and that’s her. To see her like this was so awful.”

After an initial 45-minutes of tests, vets ruled out any obvious bee sting but said that Cwtch was still in a critical condition.

Later that afternoon, there was blood in Cwtch’s stools and IV drips were failing. The pup needed a central line putting in and specialist treatment.

“Cwtch was treated as an emergency patient by the fabulous team at Davies vets in Hitchin,” Kaye added.

“They called me and asked a billion questions and did more tests and scans. At about 10 minutes to midnight they called to say she had tested positive for parvovirus. I was in total shock.”

Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that spreads rapidly through fur, grass, fluids but mainly through faeces. The disease attacks dogs’ intestines, bringing rapid dehydration and weakness. There is no cure, only treatment, and survival rate is only 9 per cent.

Cwtch made progress at Davies, but slow progress, reported Kaye.

“It was so awful. She was just so, so poorly and lost so much weight quickly,” Kaye said.

Support from the local community has been overwhelming, with scores of well-wishers sending messages through a Burnham Village social media chatgroup.

Kaye is thankful and has messages of her own: “I’m not angry but I do wish that people would pick up their dog’s mess. If people are responsible enough to own a pet then they need to take responsibility for their messes. Not just for the wellbeing of other animals, but for children, too.

Cwtch is now resting and in recovery. Kaye meanwhile, is still disinfecting the house, car and even the garden.

“I’m cleaning everything: seats, carpets, flooring, dog toys, furniture – inside and outside. I’ve had to throw bedding away,” she said.

“I think people should be more aware of the virus. We all know about it but people need to know just how dangerous it is.

“Cwtch will have really good immunity to it now, but I will be getting a booster vaccination regardless because it’s the right thing to do – for her and for the community.”

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