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General information

Parvovirus is a very small non-enveloped DNA virus with extreme environmental stability. It can persist in the environment for up to a year and is also very temperature-resistant. Animals become infected oronasally with parvoviruses. First, virus replication occurs in the mucous membranes, then followed by viraemia. The lymphatic system and organs become infected.

Various clinical forms of parvovirus infection can develop. The peracute form results in death within a few hours, usually without any serious symptoms. The acute form, however, is characterised by severe symptoms. High fever, severe bloody diarrhoea and vomitus occur. Due to the high affinity of the virus to tissues with high mitotic activity, severe leukopenia occurs simultaneously. If the number of leukocytes falls below 2000 cells/µl, prognosis must be made carefully. Subclinically infected animals represent the pathogen reservoir as they shed the virus via the faeces.


In dogs, parvovirus infection usually progresses as a cyclic systemic disease with a manifestation in the intestinal epithelium and the resulting clinical picture of anorexia, fever, vomiting and persistent bloody diarrhoea. The disease is most severe in puppies.


Feline parvovirus infection – panleukopenia – is a highly contagious systemic disease of felids. The mortality rate among unvaccinated animals is over 80%.

Clinically, the disease is characterised by fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and dehydration. The blood count shows extreme leukopenia. A special case is the intrauterine infection. The mother cat is infected without showing any symptoms, but it leads to the abortion or death of the kittens. If kittens are born alive, there is often a cerebellar hypoplasia, which leads to ataxia and tremor, usually without any impairment of consciousness.


Aleutian mink disease is caused by a parvovirus, genus Amdoparvovirus. This single-stranded DNA virus is non-enveloped and therefore, like canine and feline parvoviruses, extremely resistant. Minks, but also ferrets, skunks, otters, raccoons, foxes etc. can be affected by this disease.

The virus triggers an immune complex-mediated disease which is mainly characterised by hypergammaglobulinaemia. The symptoms vary: Young animals tend to develop pneumonia, adult animals develop glomerulonephritis, arteritis, and/or meningoencephalitis. Hind leg paresis and fertility disorders have further been described. The outcome is often lethal.

As there is currently no vaccine available, many ferrets are vaccinated with dog vaccines; it is unlikely that this will provide protection against an infection with the Aleutian mink disease virus.


Porcine parvovirus (PPV) can be detected in almost all swine populations worldwide. In Germany, a prevalence of 60 – 80 % can be assumed.

In an infection with PPV, fertility disorders and embryonic infections with subsequent fetal death (SMEDI: stillbirth, mummification, embryonic death, infertility) are the main clinical symptoms. The sows usually show no clinical signs.