08/09/2014 05:20 EDT | Updated 08/10/2014 12:59 EDT

Canine Parvovirus Is Ripping Through Town Of Cornwall, Ontario


A contagious disease in dogs is spreading quickly through an Ontario town, prompting vets to warn owners about vaccinations.

Forty cases of canine parvovirus were reported at one vet hospital in Cornwall, Ontario, the Sarnia Observer reports, and many of the dogs didn't survive. A dog owner in the town told CTV she knows of at least 17 cases.

Puppies are more susceptible than adult dogs to the virus, which is spread through infected feces. It causes vomiting, bloody diarrhea and loss of appetite, which can lead to a deadly level of dehydration, according to the ASPCA. Parvovirus can also live on surfaces for months.

While Cornwall appears to be the only town currently dealing with an outbreak, a representative from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association told the Observer all dog owners should get their animals vaccinated. Eighty-five to 90 per cent of dogs that get treated survive, she said, but treatment is expensive and time-consuming. The ASPCA considers the parvovirus vaccine a core one for dogs.

Resident Brittany Crowder told CTV she warned her neighbours about the disease after her puppy died of parvovirus about two weeks ago. Several said they weren't planning to vaccinate their dogs.

"Well I did that too,” she said. “And my puppy's dead now.”