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Partnering to prevent Parvovirus

As part of the education program, Angurugu School students had a taste of being a vet, thanks to AMRRIC Education Officer Courtney Falls and East Arnhem Regional Council Vets Dr Madeleine Kelso and Dr Melanie Coville. Image courtesy EARC.

Through collaboration, AMRRIC is able to better support veterinary program delivery and continue to reach remote communities with valuable animal-focused education. 

In April, AMRRIC teamed up with East Arnhem Regional Council (EARC), to support their successful NT Animal Welfare Grant application, targeting Parvovirus in East Arnhem Land communities. The grant enabled EARC vets, Drs Madeline Kelso and Melanie Coville to:

  • enhance their existing animal health and management program by purchasing much need Parvovirus vaccinations for young dogs, and;
  • in conjunction with AMRRIC, deliver a week long Parvovirus-focused Education Campaign on Groote Eylandt, NT.  

In the lead up to the program, AMRRIC’s Education Officer, Courtney Falls developed a number of education resources to support the targeted campaign. Courtney and the EARC vets then used these tailored resources to share knowledge of Parvovirus with the Eylandt’s communities of Angurugu and Umbakumba. Both communities have been impacted by ongoing outbreaks of Parvovirus, resulting in many community members losing much loved pets. 

Parvovirus, or Parvo as it is commonly known, is a highly infectious virus which is spread through the faeces and vomit of infected animals. Once the virus comes into contact with the ground it can remain contagious for around 12 months. Dogs contract Parvovirus through direct contact with infected dogs, or when they come into contact with soil contaminated with Parvovirus.  Fortunately, Canine Parvovirus is not able to infect humans; for unvaccinated dogs though, it is a very serious disease risk, with high mortality rates, particularly for young animals.

Education sessions focusing on Parvo awareness and responsible dog ownership, were held within the communities’ schools, Families as First Teachers Centre and at a community awareness BBQ. School students participated in educational activities focusing on dog care and empathy and also had the opportunity to get a taste for being a vet - dressing up in full surgical gowns, caps and gloves, and learning basic animal first aid principles. Although the rain did have a slight impact on attendance at the community awareness BBQ, the wonderful staff at the Community Development Program cooked up an amazing lunch of roast chicken wraps which were enjoyed by the community and their pets alike! Community residents also had the opportunity to chat with the vets, purchase animal health and care products for their dogs, participate in craft activities and have their face painted.   

The week-long education campaign provided a great opportunity to promote responsible pet ownership and care and also to raise awareness around the deadly Parvovirus.  AMRRIC thanks East Arnhem Regional Council’s Animal Management Program for the invitation to collaborate on this beneficial program, and commends them for their committment to improving animal health and management in their region.  AMRRIC is also grateful to the Northern Territory Government for seeing merit in East Arnhem Regional Council's grant application which supported this work, as well as the Australian Government, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet for funding AMRRIC's operations within the Northern Territory.


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