An unidentified disease has killed more than a dozen dogs in northern Michigan, officials say.
The Otsego County Animal Shelter said in a statement Friday that more than 20 dogs in the county have died from an illness similar to parvovirus, a highly contagious and often fatal gastrointestinal disease in dogs.
The shelter’s director, Melissa Fitzgerald, released a statement on Aug. 9 stating that most of the dogs that died were less than 2 years old and died within three days of showing symptoms.
Fitzgerald said symptoms included bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.
However, when the dogs were taken to be tested for parvovirus, the tests were negative.
Fitzgerald said the “best guess” for the cause of the deaths is an unknown strain of the parvovirus.
According to the shelter, the disease doesn’t affect one breed over another, but appears to be more common in puppies and older dogs.
The shelter’s statement added that there have been no dogs that have been properly vaccinated in recent weeks.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is investigating the recent deaths.
“We are still in the early stages of this research, but some of the first samples submitted to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were positive for canine parvovirus. even more to learn,” says vet Nora. Wineland reports this in a statement.
“When MDARD first learned of these cases in northern Michigan, we immediately contacted the concerned veterinarians and animal shelters and began our response efforts,” Wineland added. “Protecting animal and public health is one of the most important pillars of the department, but it is a team effort. Dog owners should ensure their pet is up to date on routine vaccinations as it is the first step to keep your pet healthy.” to keep.”
Jennifer Holton, spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, told ABC News that because parvovirus is not a notifiable disease, officials mostly work with anecdotal information.
“Parvo is an incredibly hardy virus,” Holton said. “And by that I mean it can survive different temperatures and all kinds of things.”
Holton said it is essential for pet owners to have their dogs vaccinated and notify their vet if they see any signs of illness in their dogs.
She added that proper clearance, to stop the spread of the disease through feces, is also essential, especially in high-capacity areas such as shelters, dog shelters and other animal-friendly places.
While the mystery surrounding the current death rates is worrisome, Holton said officials have the investigation under control.
“The word ‘panic’ has been used a lot, which is certainly not what we’re doing here,” Holton said. “Putting animal health first is one of the most important foundations of what our animal industry department in this department does on a daily basis.”