KOLKATA: At least 60 stray dogs and more than a dozen dogs have died in less than two weeks in Calcutta after suffering from suspected canine parvovirus viral gastroenteritis. It is a highly contagious disease that spreads from one dog to another through direct or indirect contact through the feces. Animal sympathizers and pet owners in the city are concerned as veterinarians blame the Covid-19 pandemic for many pet owners avoiding timely vaccination of their dogs, which could have spread the disease.
“My dog was fine until he suddenly went numb, vomited and had severe diarrhea. We immediately contacted our vet and dripped him, but he died in less than 24 hours. It was only after he died that the vet said he had all of the symptoms of the parvovirus. I have another dog and now we are drugged and watched closely to make sure it is safe, ”said Sutirtha Basu, a pet owner in Jadavpur.
Similar fears have gripped other pet lovers and pet owners across the city, most of whom have even stopped taking their pets for a walk for the time being.
“I have seven dogs and have seen some of my friends lose their pups to this deadly disease. I’ve taken all possible precautions and keep my dogs at home for now. We also try to keep them away from each other. If one of them gets the disease, others may get the same disease too, ”said Swetanjali Mehrotra Menon, another animal owner in Ballygunge.
City veterinarians said their clinics were flooded with patients with viral gastroenteritis and canine parvovirus all day long, and they would have to hire separate staff to make phone calls to handle pet owners and animal lovers to handle the situation separately.
“This disease generally occurs in dogs during this time of year. This year, however, the numbers are exceptionally high, largely due to a long vaccination gap in DHPPL vaccines, where many pet owners avoid visiting the clinic due to the pandemic last year. We are working overtime treating the animals, but the situation is really bad and we are losing a lot of our patients, ”said city veterinarian Subir Bhattacharya.
Basabi Chatterjee of Nikhil Banga Kalyan Samiti, who runs a dog burial site in Thakurpukur, said at least 10-12 pets are brought to the tomb every day. “Six out of 25 pups that we housed in this grave site have died in the past three days. Twelve others are dripping and their condition is getting worse too, ”Chatterjee said.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation officials said the situation was worse for strays, with more than 60 deaths in less than two weeks. “At least five to six deaths are reported every day, and in all cases the dogs have similar symptoms. We have treated some of them in our Dhapa clinic and kept them in separate isolation rooms, but rescuing young puppies and children under one year old has been extremely difficult, ”said Rajib Ghosh, Public Safety Coordinator at KMC Health Department.
In other parts of the state where brand awareness is low, the numbers are even higher. Bishnupur in Bankura alone has recorded more than 250 deaths in the past three days.
Doctors at Belgachhia Veterinary Clinic said that dogs with lower immunity and late detection most likely die of hypovolemic shock, in which a dog loses more than 20% of its body’s blood or fluid supply.
“This canine viral gastroenteritis is caused by either canine parvovirus or rotavirus. It’s a secondary bacterial infection that spreads from one dog to another. Humans don’t get sick from dogs, but humans can pass it on from one dog to another, ”said Shyamal Guha, the hospital veterinarian.