The Bulloch County Animal Shelter is expected to reopen to the public next week after a serious bout with canine parvovirus.
Shelter manager Wendy Ivey said incoming dogs that showed no initial signs of the disease brought the virus in, resulting in the closure of the shelter after the outbreak of parvo in both the isolation and adoption floors.
Only one dog that was adopted had parvo, and that puppy "did not get sick until later," she said.
It is difficult to determine whether a puppy or dog carries the virus when it comes in to the shelter. As soon as the disease was noted, steps to manage the outbreak were taken, she said.
When it comes to taking in animals, either personal surrenders or strays, "there is no way to tell" whether a dog carries parvo unless it shows symptoms.
The shelter "quarantined the adoption floor" and euthanized affected animals — a total of 26 dogs, Ivey said. The shelter is closed for adoptions the rest of the week but open to receive animals, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
According to WebMD, in a report that can be found at www.pets.webmd.com/dogs, parvo is "a highly contagious viral disease ... most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problem."
Symptoms include lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea.
The virus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog's feces," according to the site.
The virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors, according to the site.
Anyone with questions may call the shelter at (912) 764-4529.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.