BROOKSVILLE — Adoptions scheduled this week for rescued Shih Tzu dogs will be postponed until January 2011 after a virus outbreak at the county shelter.
Hernando County Animal Services is dealing with an outbreak of parvovirus discovered over the weekend. According to animal control supervisor Patrick Pace, 38 of the rescued dogs have died since their rescue on Nov. 18.
The shelter had received more than 260 adoption applications for the dogs. However, adoptions are on hold to prevent spreading the virus or giving a family a pet that could later develop symptoms.
"The staff members who have been caring for these animals for the past month are heartbroken," Liana Teague, Hernando County Animal Services code and animal services manager, said in a statement.
The parvovirus is highly contagious and affects the digestive system and the heart. Puppies and dogs with other diseases are especially susceptible. The Shih Tzu dogs rescued from abandonment were malnourished, and suffering from infections and other diseases that made the outbreak worse.
The mortality rate for parvovirus in shelters can be higher than 90 percent, officials said. Symptoms include a fast onset of fever, vomiting, hemorrhagic diarrhea, dehydration and death.
Pace said shelter workers arrived Sunday morning to discovered three dogs that had died overnight. A check of the rest of the Shih Tzus showed dozens more had symptoms of the disease. Those that tested positive for parvovirus were euthanized.
All of the dogs at the shelter will be vaccinated, and facilities will be cleaned with a bleach solution, Pace said. Animals showing symptoms of the virus will be euthanized to prevent suffering and spreading the disease.
Direct or secondary contact with an infected animal or feces can spread the virus. Rodents or insects can also spread it.
Anyone who adopted a pet from Hernando County Animal Services in the last 14 days should contact a veterinarian and monitor their pets for symptoms of the virus.
For more information, call Hernando County Animal Services at (352) 796-5062.
Ileana Morales can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.