A new strain of a contagious and common dog virus, canine parvovirus (CPV), has been discovered in Australia.
University of Adelaide researchers say they have confirmed cases of the variation of the virus in South Australia and Victoria during the past two years.
The viral infection attacks the cells lining a dog’s small intestine, leading to bloody diarrhoea, and it can be fatal.
The new strain is spreading around the world but until now there have no confirmed Australian cases.
Along with the SA and Victorian cases, there have also been suspected cases of the strain, CPV-2c, in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Veterinary virologist Farhid Hemmatzadeh says the variation might not show up in existing diagnostic tests for CPV and dogs already vaccinated against CPV might not be protected.
He says despite this, Australian dog deaths had not recently spiked.
‘‘So I think it’s a case of being alert, not alarmed,’’ Professor Hemmatzadeh said in a statement on Friday.
There is no specific treatment for the virus, which mostly affects puppies aged between six weeks and six months.
But dogs can be hospitalised and given intravenous fluid therapy, medication to stop their vomiting and antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections until they recover.