09/17/2013 10:03 EDT | Updated 11/17/2013 05:12 EST

Chilliwack sees high number of dog virus cases

A veterinarian in the Fraser Valley says he's concerned about reports that a high number of dogs have been infected with a potentially deadly virus.

Tim Maarhuis says he has seen four cases of canine parvovirus in the last month in his Chilliwack clinic, up from an average of about one case a year.

He says it could mean people aren't vaccinating their dogs.

Animal Control Services at the Fraser Valley Regional District reports 16 cases have surfaced in the last month.

The virus is highly contagious and dogs catch the virus through exposure to dog feces. Young dogs and puppies are particularly at risk, as well as certain species, including Rottweilers, German shepherds and labradors. There is no risk to humans.

Canine parvovirus is common but can be prevented with a vaccination.

Maarhuis recommends getting puppies vaccinated, keeping them away from high traffic areas such as dog parks, and avoiding long outdoor walks where they might be exposed.