North Dakota company finds possible cure for deadly dog virus

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A North Dakota company is reporting some success in developing an experimental treatment to cure parvovirus, often called "parvo," a highly contagious virus that can be life-threatening for dogs.

Field tests have been underway in the last few months in seven states, including Minnesota, and the company, Avianax, hopes to start selling the treatment next spring.

Parvovirus can affect all types of canines, but puppies, dogs who haven't been vaccinated and those around a lot of other dogs are more susceptible to the virus, according to the ASPCA.

The virus spreads through animal waste and contact between dogs. Parvovirus kills some dogs, and others are euthanized because treatment is lengthy and expensive – and isn't always successful.

The exact number of parvovirus cases each year in Minnesota is not known, but veterinarians see thousands of cases every year with a mortality rate approaching 91 percent, Avianax says. WCCO did a story in 2011 on Minnesota dogs infected with parvovirus, noting that one family paid over $1,000 to treat their beloved pet.

Veterinarians recommend that puppies and dogs be vaccinated against parvovirus because for those animals that contract the virus, treatments often prove ineffective.

At least until now, Grand Forks-based Avianax says. Company officials say they discovered a possible treatment for parvovirus accidentally as it tried to cure a flock of sick geese, Tech Times reports.

Avianax says its antibody-based treatment parvoONE, which is made from the yolks of geese eggs, reduces the mortality rate to 15 percent, with an average hospitalization time of two days, compared to the 90 percent mortality rate and hospitalization of five to seven days, with other forms of treatment.

In more recent studies, parvoONE has had a 90 percent cure rate among the nearly 50 puppies that were treated for the virus, the Associated Press reports. These field tests will run through November and Avianax hopes to have parvoONE on sale next spring.

Avianax has found promising links between goose antibodies and treatments for human diseases, including dengue fever, avian flu, rabies and some cancers, the Associated Press says.

Researches have also found evidence of the parvovirus killing wolves in Minnesota, which has had an effect on the state's gray wolf population.

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