LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Parvovirus can be fatal to your brand new puppy or kitten, and 8 News Now connected with a local veterinarian on the steps you need to take to make sure it remains safe.

Dr. Jamie Augenstein of Oasis Animal Hospital in Henderson said that over the past five years, vets across the country are seeing new cases of parvovirus.

Just last month, 30 dogs in northern Michigan died from a “mysterious illness” that had parvo-like symptoms. Initial parvovirus tests came back negative, but then ultimately came back as parvovirus.

“Parvo has been changing recently,” Dr. Augenstein said. “They get it by ingestion, come across, it, step in it, lick their paws, it gets in the GI tract, attacks the GI tract, gets absorbed into the blood stream, suppresses the immune system.”

The virus causes vomiting, fever, severe diarrhea, and extreme dehydration, which can kill an animal within two to three days, so prompt veterinary attention is crucial. So is a complete set of vaccinations for your new pet.

“The new recommendations are that they should be vaccinated out to 20 weeks, so their last vaccine should be at 20 weeks of age, and parvo is actually the reason that recommendation came about,” Dr. Augenstein continued.

Until your puppy or kitten is fully vaccinated by 20 weeks, minimize their exposure to other people and animals. Keep it to people you know who are healthy and other pets that are healthy until their immune system matures.