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Canine enteric coronavirus, or CCoV, as it's known for short, was first recognized in 1971 after a group of military dogs suffered an outbreak of gastroenteritis.
So how do you know if your puppy is at risk?
Puppies generally pick up the enteric disease through contact with infected feces. A puppy with CCoV may develop a mild case of diarrhea. Other signs may include depression, appetite loss, vomiting and, rarely, fever. The severity of signs can depend on factors such as a puppy’s age, the level of exposure to the virus and how much maternal immunity has been transferred to the puppy.
A CCoV infection usually affects puppies younger than 12 weeks and is typically most severe in pups younger than 6 weeks. While signs of infection are usually mild, severe infections accompanied by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances can lead to death. In most cases, the infection typically runs its course in eight to 10 days.
The virus is highly contagious, so it is most often seen in situations where dogs are housed together in large numbers, such as boarding kennels, breeding facilities, pet stores and shelters. Other possible risk factors include going to the groomer or dog park or simply living in a home with many dogs. Some dogs can shed the virus for several months after infection.
The virus succumbs to most disinfectants. Regularly disposing of feces and taking steps to keep the environment disinfected are the best ways to reduce transmission of and exposure to the virus.
Fortunately, severe disease is uncommon compared with other intestinal viruses such as parvovirus. However, signs can become more severe when the pup is also infected with parvovirus.
That said, a 2014 report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, says that emerging variants of the virus can be much more serious — and even deadly. In France, Belgium, Italy and Australia, infections by highly virulent CCoVs have been documented in puppies without apparent co-infections, the report states. These variants are described as pantropic, meaning they can escape the enteric tract, or small intestine, and spread throughout the body. Fortunately, this type of infection is rare, but it suggests the importance of looking for CCoV as a cause of illness if canine parvovirus (CPV) has been ruled out.
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