Experts joined Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, to discuss their experiences with canine parvovirus, including management options and obstacles, as well as the first ever antiviral treatment, CPMA
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During a recent dvm360 PetConnections discussion, opinion leaders from across the veterinary health industry shared their insights into the current limitations of and treatment options for canine parvovirus. Moderated by Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, the panel featured Michael R. Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM; Erik Zager, DVM, DACVECC; Christopher Pachel, DVM, DACVB, CABC; and Fathom Woods. The conversation touched on early-use testimonials as well as the benefits of canine parvovirus monoclonal antibody (CPMA) as a treatment method.
The first canine parvovirus vaccine was introduced in 1979, but financial barriers caused many puppies to remain unvaccinated. Beyond cost, there was a severe lack of education surrounding the vaccine, so even pet parents with the means of getting their puppies vaccinated weren’t bringing them into the clinic. Although treatment methods have improved over the decades, financial issues and educational access remain 2 major obstacles. “[Parvovirus] is a drain on resources, on time... It’s a drain on the hospital staff, on our morale,” said Zager. Because this virus is preventable, the emotional impact is often just as great as, if not greater than, the financial burden.
Canine parvovirus tends to coincide with a puppy’s formative weeks in terms of socialization and bonding. Beyond the impact of parvovirus itself, extended hospitalization can leave puppies with a unique form of lasting trauma. “Especially when we’re thinking about those puppies who are joining households at 8, 9, [or] 10 weeks of age, that is right within the primary socialization window,” Pachel said. “So to lose that opportunity, we’re actually losing developmental trajectories of brain development.”
Although a parvovirus diagnosis may cause a pet parent to worry about early socialization, there are ways to encourage developmental growth in these animals beyond settings like puppy classes. “Socialization is really about creating new experiences that inform that brain how to process new and different things,” Pachel added. “It does include actual social time, but it also includes learning about different flooring and substrates [and] noises.”
Puppies affected by parvovirus can undergo developmental growth during isolation, but no surefire home remedy exists in terms of treatment. Working at Austin Pets Alive, Woods has witnessed firsthand how prevalent parvovirus still is. “It’s everywhere. [In 2022], we treated 1300 dogs in our ICU, and that’s not even counting the at-home [parvovirus cases],” said Woods. “It’s constant.”
Fortunately, it seems CPMA is the breakthrough in canine parvovirus treatment that practitioners have been waiting for. The monoclonal antibody prevents the virus from entering new cells, meaning it’s best used for treating patients with early diagnoses. Lappin described CPMA as, “serum neutralization with a standardized production process,” which assures every batch is consistent. He added, “That standardization is why this is probably going to be more successful than the previous [treatments] trying to use hyperimmune serum, because there would be variation from dose to dose”.
CPMA is not only leading to more effective treatment for puppies affected by parvovirus but also making virus management more affordable.1 The cost of hospitalizing a puppy with parvovirus is mainly due to staffing, not materials. Because CPMA helps practitioners treat puppies faster and more effectively, hospitalization time is notably reduced. Pet parents who otherwise may have been unable to afford treatment now have options available. These lower costs and shorter hospitalization durations also allow more clinics to include CPMA in their current standard of care.
“It is one of those game changers that could, perhaps, shrink the fatality rate from 10% to less than 10%, [or] maybe to [0%],” said Lappin.
Canineparvovirusmonoclonalantibody.Package insert. Elanco Animal Health; 2023. Accessed September 12, 2023. https://www.elancolabels.com/us/ canine-parvovirus-monoclonal-antibody
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