A company from North Dakota plans to sell a treatment for a viral disease known to be life-threatening and highly contagious for dogs. The company discovered the canine antibody technology by accident as it tried curing flocks of sick geese.

Parvovirus affects dogs no matter the age but puppies aged six to 20 weeks old are most affected. Rottweilers and Dobberman Pinschers seem to get the infection with more severe symptoms and their lower resistance to it is still unknown.

The virus spreads through the animal waste and contacts between dogs typically happens at shelters, shows and kennels. Some dogs die because of the virus while others are euthanized because antibiotics and other treatments take very long and are very expensive. It can cost up to $2,000 of intravenous fluids, antibiotics, stomach medicine and painkillers. It typically takes six days to treat.

Avianax is currently testing the treatment for the canine parvovirus around the United States and results show that 90 percent of around 50 puppies have been cured. Officials aim to start putting the parvoOne medicine in the market by next spring. The antibody-based treatment could cost $75 per dose and can work as quickly as two days.

"When the box arrived we were yelling, 'Woo, the geese antibodies are here!'" Tori Fugate, a shelter worker said. "Just the fact that someone is caring out there is pretty remarkable. A lot of open admission shelters choose to not treat parvo because it's considered too much of a resource."

The number of dogs which contract the parvovirus per year is still unclear because the disease is not required to be reported. One of the seven test sites in the U.S. is Kansas City Pet Project, one of the biggest shelters in the country, reported around five cases that end up on "parvo ward" every month. The Missouri shelter officials are optimistic that with the new treatment, there will be a significant increase in dogs which will survive parvo. The U.S. Department of Agriculture issued conditional permits to test in Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, Iowa, Arizona and North Carolina.

Avianax found this promising connection between goose treatments and antibodies for other infections such as dengue fever, rabies, some cancers and avian flu. Because of financial and time constraints, the Grand Forks-based group did not explore human disease tests and set their goals on the veterinary market.

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