The effect of oral infection of puppies, eight and 10 weeks old, with canine parvovirus of faecal origin was studied. Clinical signs of enteric disease were first apparent at five days after inoculation and persisted during days 6 and 7 after inoculation. The severity of clinical signs varied from transient dullness and anorexia to emesis, dysentery and death. Changes in haematological parameters were first found at day 3 after inoculation when a relative lymphopenia was observed. A profound neutropenia developed in severely affected dogs after the appearance of clinical enteric disease. Post mortem examination revealed thymic atrophy in all dogs killed on day 4 after inoculation. Macroscopic changes in the small intestine were apparent only in animals examined during the phase of severe enteric disease and consisted of thickening, rigidity and congestion of the small intestines. Microscopically there was lymphocytolysis in the thymic cortex and the germinal centres of the lymph nodes from days 2 and 3 after inoculation respectively and this rapidly resulted in depletion of these tissues. There was repopulation of lymph nodes from day 7 after inoculation but significant thymic regeneration was not apparent during the course of this study. In the small intestine, necrosis of crypt epithelium, atrophy of villi and, in some areas, complete collapse of mucosal architecture were found but the extent of these changes varied along the length of the small intestine and between individuals. Regenerative intestinal changes were observed in those animals surviving the acute phase of enteric dysfunction. The variable severity of clinical and enteric lesions, together with the factors which may affect the expression of clinical disease, are discussed.
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