Contagious dog illness spreads at Occupy SF camp

Three dogs at Occupy SF's Justin Herman Plaza camp have contracted parvovirus. (Examiner file photo)Three dogs at Occupy SF's Justin Herman Plaza camp have contracted parvovirus. (Examiner file photo)

Dogs better watch their backs at the Occupy SF camp.

Three pooches residing at the Justin Herman Plaza space have tested positive for the highly contagious and deadly parvovirus, putting all four-legged friends there at risk, according to San Francisco Animal Care and Control.

The San Francisco SPCA and Animal Care and Control visited the camp Monday afternoon to offer free veterinary services to dog owners after the SPCA confirmed an outbreak of parvovirus last week. The station set up for the clinic was visited by dozens of dog owners Monday, according to campers. Two more cases were confirmed Monday.

Protesters had mixed feelings Monday night about the dog illnesses. One camper with a pit bull said she appreciated the SPCA providing services at the camp. Another dog owner, however, accused the SPCA of spreading bad publicity as part of a greater effort to shut down the encampment.

The pooch with the first confirmed case is receiving treatment, the SPCA reported. Parvovirus is highly contagious and often can be deadly, and it primarily affects young dogs and puppies under 6 months old that have yet to receive the complete series of vaccinations, according to the SPCA.

The disease can survive without a host for many months and is easily contracted in an infected area, the SPCA said. It is excreted in the feces of infected dogs. Symptoms include vomiting and bloody diarrhea.

Humans cannot contract the disease.

In addition to parvovirus, the SPCA said it suspects kennel cough also has befallen the camp. The respiratory illness is highly contagious as well, and the SPCA said it’s very concerned about kennel cough spreading at Occupy SF.

The SPCA is urging protesters to not bring their dogs to the camp.

mdenike@sfexaminer.com

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