March 2021

Multiple Canine Parvoviral Enteritis Cases Diagnosed at the KSVDL

By Dr. Sasha Thomason, Hayley Barkoviak, and Kristin Helmer

In the last two months, the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has diagnosed multiple cases of parvovirus enteritis. Most cases involved high morbidity in kennels; some experienced high mortality as well. A few of the cases include:

  • A nine-week old Maltese puppy from a litter of 6 presented to the KSVDL for necropsy after five of the six puppies in the litter died within a 24-36-hour time period. The entire litter was symptomatic with loose stools that progressed to bloody stools. The kennel had a vaccination protocol in place through their veterinarian, and the breeding females are healthy.
  • An eight-week old French Bulldog puppy was submitted for necropsy from a litter of three. The litter had been examined and vaccinated by their veterinarian three days prior. All three were found to be normal and healthy at that visit. All three puppies began showing symptoms a couple days later.
  • A five-week old Belgian Malinois puppy was submitted for necropsy from a litter of 12. Two puppies in the litter had died. All puppies were experiencing vomiting and diarrhea. They were from a breeding operation that had had five previous parvovirus cases within a month of this instance.

All puppies were grossly normal on necropsy aside from the lesions in the gastrointestinal tract which were consistent with common parvoviral enteritis lesions. At least two of the puppies had co-infections with other enteric viruses and/or bacteria as well. Parvoviral genotyping PCR was done in all cases. Including data from additional KSVDL cases over the last two months, three cases have been caused by CPV-2a. Two cases have been caused by CPV-2b, and two cases have been caused by CPV-2c. All were strong positives, with CT values ranging from 9.87 – 20.64. The mean CT value was 14.08.

If you are working with a breeder or kennel owner to control this issue, some helpful tips include:

  • Two to three months prior to breeding, test the mother’s immune status with our Canine Core Vaccine Titer Panel (SSN-1100) to make sure she has a protective level of antibody against canine parvovirus. If her titer is above the level that is considered protective, it is expected that she can provide protective levels of maternal antibodies to her puppies through colostrum. If her titer is below the level considered protective, a booster vaccine can be administered. Her titer should be rechecked two-four weeks following the booster, to make sure she mounted an appropriate immune response to the vaccine. If the titer doesn’t rise, the mother could be a poor or non-responder. Since this is an inherited trait, non-responders should not be used for breeding.
  • Our Comprehensive Canine Diarrhea Panel PCR (MDL-3560) can be performed on feces. This test can help identify more than eight other viruses, bacteria and intestinal parasites that may be causing or exacerbating the enteritis.
  • When a sample is positive for parvovirus by PCR, you can identify which strain of the parvovirus is causing disease by performing our Canine Parvovirus Genotyping PCR (MDL-3510). This is especially helpful if a kennel is experiencing multiple bouts of disease to see if it is the same strain each time, or different strains. This information could help identify if the virus is persisting around the facility or being brought in from outside.
  • The mainstay of canine parvovirus (CPV) prevention is still vaccination. Starting a puppy’s vaccination series at six to nine weeks old and vaccinating every three to four weeks until the puppy is at least 16 weeks old is considered best practice.1The latest American Animal Hospital Association vaccination guidelines even recommend giving vaccines until 18-20 weeks in high-risk areas or if the puppy lives in a high risk environment. Commercially available CPV vaccines contain one strain of the virus: CPV-2, CPV-2b, or CPV-2c. Studies have demonstrated good cross protection exists amongst the canine parvovirus strains. For example, a vaccine containing CPV-2b has the ability to induce antibodies for CPV-2a and CPV-2c as well.3 The most important factor to prevent vaccine failure is a vaccination series that extends to 16 weeks of age. A final vaccine dose administered to a puppy less than 16 weeks of age can be neutralized by maternal antibodies and rendered less effective.4 Vaccine packaging usually indicates the vaccine is cross-protective against all strains of the parvovirus. If that is not clear, you can always contact the vaccine manufacturer.


(1)Altman, K., Kelman, M., & Ward, M. (2017). Are vaccine strain, type or administration protocol risk factors for canine parvovirus vaccine failure? Veterinary Microbiology, 210, 8-16. doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2017.08.019

(2)Cavalli, A., Martella, V., Desario, C., Camero, M., Bellacicco, A. L., De Palo, P., . . . Buonavoglia, C. (2007). Evaluation of the antigenic relationships among canine parvovirus type 2 variants. Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, 15(3), 534-539. doi:10.1128/cvi.00444-07

(3)Wilson, S., Illambas, J., Siedek, E., Stirling, C., Thomas, A., Plevová, E., . . . Salt, J. (2014). Vaccination of dogs with canine parvovirus type 2b (cpv-2b) induces neutralising antibody responses to cpv-2a and cpv-2c. Vaccine, 32(42), 5420-5424. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.07.102

(4)Yip, H. Y., Peaston, A., Woolford, L., Khuu, S. J., Wallace, G., Kumar, R. S., . . . Hemmatzadeh, F. (2020). Diagnostic challenges in canine parvovirus 2c in vaccine failure cases. Viruses, 12(9), 980. doi:10.3390/v12090980

Sasha Thomason, DVM is the Section Head for Accessioning at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

*Hayley Barkoviak and Kristin Helmer are fourth-year veterinary students, members of the KSU DVM Class of 2021.

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