The RSPCA are urging dog owners to get their pets vaccinated for parvovirus, after at least 22 cases of the deadly disease were recorded in Whyalla over the past week.
Two stray dogs were euthanised by vets after being found collapsed on the street, with one local vet advising that this strain of the virus appears to be particularly aggressive.
RSPCA SA chief veterinarian Dr Brad Ward said it was impossible to over-exaggerate how serious a threat the current outbreak poses to the city's canine population.
"Anyone who has seen an animal die from Parvo would understand how vital vaccination is," he said.
"The only way to protect young puppies is a course of three vaccinations, ideally administered by a vet in the first 20 weeks of life. Most dogs older than four months will achieve immunity to the virus with just one vaccination."
Dogs contract Parvovirus by coming into contact with vomit or faeces from infected dogs. Once an area is infected, it can remain dangerous for up to a year.
Dr Ward said unvaccinated dogs, including young puppies that have not received the full vaccination course, should not be allowed to come into contact with other dogs or taken to areas.
"The virus persists in the environment for a long period of time - if your dog is not vaccinated then I urge you to keep him on your property," he said.
"Please get your dogs fully vaccinated as soon as possible, we must stop this deadly and cruel virus spreading any further."
Symptoms of parvovirus include:
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Weight loss
Whyalla dog owners requiring further information can contact the RSPCA Whyalla shelter on 8644 0172 or the shelter manager Andre Sliedrecht directly on 0447 447 789.