Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Parvovirus disease associated with CPV-2

Synonym(s): Parvo

Contributor(s): Stephen Barr, Susan Dawson, Bryn Tennant


  • 2 parvoviruses affect dogs:
    • CPV-1 (first recognized in 1967).
    • CPV-2 (first recognized in 1978).
  • Highly resistant viruses.
  • CPV-2 targets rapidly dividing cells, eg bone marrow, intestinal crypt epithelial cells, myocardium/young puppies.
  • Signs: vomiting, profuse hemorrhagic diarrhea and profound depression.
  • Diagnosis: serology and virus isolation, antigen detection or PCR from feces.
  • Treatment: symptomatic, interferon.
  • Prognosis: reasonable if presented early in course of disease.
  • Prevention: vaccination.
  • Zoonotic potential: some strains of CPV (CPV-2a, 2c) may cause enteric disease in cats.

    Print out owner factsheet Parvovirus disease in your dog Parvovirus disease in your dog to give to your client.



  • CPV-2, CPV-2a, CPV-2b and CPV-2c.
  • Potential for virus to alter over time so new variants may appear.
  • Highly resistant virus Canine parvovirus.

Predisposing factors

  • Stress.
  • Crowded conditions.
  • Low levels maternal antibodies.
  • More severe disease seen if concurrent illness, eg distemper Canine distemper disease.


  • When CPV-2 first recognized in 1978, myocarditis commonly developed due to peri-natal infection of pups born to non-immune bitches.
  • The virus targets myocardial cells in the neonate, with possible sequelae including sudden death or acute/subacute heart failure.
  • Now most pups are born to immune bitches; maternally-derived antibody provides pup with protection for up to 8 weeks after birth. Myocardial syndrome now rarely seen.
  • Oral entry → replication in oropharyngeal lymphoid tissue → viremia → localization in lymphoid tissue → leukopenia → localization in intestinal mucosal crypt cells → villus atrophy.
  • Targets rapidly dividing cells, ie lymphoid cells, intestinal epithelial cells.


  • Incubation period (enteric form): 5-10 days.


  • Virus infection endemic in many countries.
  • Proportion of cases associated with each of the variants (ie CPV-2a, 2b or 2c) depends on country or area.
  • Transmitted by fecal shedding from infected dog and oral entry.
  • Inapparent infection in adult dogs.
  • Fecal contamination of environment usual route for infection.
  • Virus highly resistant, therefore fomites also important in transmission of infection.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Decaro N et al (2006) First detection of canine parvovirus type 2c in pups with haemorrhagic enteritis in Spain. J Vet Med 53 (10), 468-472 PubMed.
  • Martin V et al (2002) Treatment of canine parvoviral enteritis with interferon-omega in a placebo-controlled challenge trial. Vet Microbiol 89 (2-3), 115-27 PubMed.
  • Mischke R et al (2001) Effect of recombinant human granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (rhG-CSF) on leukocyte count and survival rate of dogs with parvoviral enteritis. Res Vet Sci 70 (3), 221-5 PubMed.
  • Nakamura et al (2001) Pathogenic potential of canine parvovirus types 2a and 2c in domestic catsClin Diagn Lab Immunol (3), 663-668 PubMed.
  • Otto C M et al (2001) Recombinant bactericidal/permeability-increasing protein (eBPI21) for treatment of parvovirus enteritis: a randomized. double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. J Vet Intern Med 15 (4), 355-60 PubMed.
  • Coyne M J (2000) Seroconversion of puppies to canine parvovirus and canine distemper virus - a comparison of two combination vaccines. JAAHA 36 (2), 137-142 PubMed.
  • Cohn L A et al (1999) Plasma granulocyte colony-stimulating factor concentrations in neutropenic, parvoviral enteritis-infected puppies. J Vet Intern Med 13 (6), 581-6 PubMed.
  • Mann F A et al (1998) Ionised and total magnesium concentrations in blood from dogs with naturally acquired parvoviral enteritis. JAVMA 212 (9), 1398-401 PubMed.
  • McCaw D, Thompson M et al (1998) Serum distemper virus and parvovirus antibody titers among dogs brought to a veterinary hospital for revaccination. JAVMA 213 (1), 72-75 VetMedResource.
  • Hoskins J D (1997) Update on canine parvoviral enteritis. Vet Med 92 (8), 694-709 VetMedResource.
  • MacIntire D K & Smith-Carr S (1997) Canine Parvovirus Part II - Clinical signs, diagnosis and treatment. Comp Cont Ed Prac Vet 19 (3), 291-302 VetMedResource.
  • Smith-Carr S, Swango L J & MacIntire D K (1997) Canine Parvovirus Part I - Pathogenesis and vaccination. Comp Cont Ed Prac Vet 19 (2), 125-133 VetMedResource.
  • Greene C E (1994) Diagnosis, therapy and prevention of common infectious disease in the dog. Vet Q 16 (Suppl 1), 2S-5S PubMed.
  • Dimmit R (1991) Clinical experience with cross-protective antiendotoxin antiserum in dogs with parvoviral enteritis. Canine Pract 16 (3), 23-6 VetMedResource.