(WMC) - The Bartlett Animal Shelter had to euthanize 20 dogs recently due to a parvovirus disease outbreak.
Parvo is a virus that can kill a dog within days of the first signs of symptoms. The Bartlett Animal Shelter lost more than a third of its population recently to the disease that is the worst it's been in years.
The shelter had to shut down temporarily.
"Most of the time if it's got parvo then we need to go ahead and put it down because it's highly contagious," Bill Yearwood with City of Bartlett said.
The symptoms are severe vomiting and diarrhea that comes on quickly.
Veterinarian John Halford at Walnut Grove Animal Hospital says the virus is often spread by flies.
"Its a disease that I liken to the worst case of flu that you could ever imagine having," he said. "It's in vomit and diarrhea so flies ... You know, flies are how it moves around."
Parvo is immune to almost every type of cleaning solution other than a mixture of bleach and water. The best line of defense is making sure your dogs are vaccinated, because parvo is making a comeback. Halford says he can't recall treating a dog for parvo whose shots were up to date.
"In the last couple years it's been sort of a rebirth, not as big as it was 30 years ago, but pretty big," Halford said.
The Bartlett Animal Shelter is back open and officials say the parvo threat is under control, but they are reviewing their intake practices.
"Last thing we want to do is have a repeat of this and have it spread throughout the shelter," Halford said.