A mysterious disease is infecting dogs in Michigan, and some cases appear to be fatal. It is a parvovirus-like illness that causes vomiting and bloody stools.
Parvovirus is highly contagious to dogs and is common in Michigan. A vaccine is available and the virus is not contagious to other animals or humans.
Otsego County has seen more than 30 deaths from the disease, Melissa FitzGerald, director of Otsego County Animal Control and Shelter, told CBS News. Clare County has had at least 10 deaths and Ostego County has had about 10, but Fitzgerald said there could be more.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said it had received a report that a dog in northern Michigan was vomiting and having diarrhea. These are common symptoms of canine parvovirus, but the animal tested negative for the parvovirus at the veterinary clinic.
Other animal control agencies in northern Michigan reported seeing dogs with similar symptoms, as well as others typically associated with parvovirus, such as lethargy and loss of appetite. The causes of the symptoms had not been established.
The State Department is working with partners such as the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and the United States Department of Agriculture to learn more about the disease, but they are still in the early stages. initial phase of the research.
Samples were submitted to the state university lab and they tested positive for canine parvovirus — but more results are pending, state veterinarian Nora Wineland said 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. Protecting animal and public health is one of “The main pillars of the department, but it is a team effort. Dog owners should make sure their pet is up to date with routine vaccinations as this is the first step to keeping your pet healthy.”
The department urges pet owners to keep up with routine vaccinations for their dogs, clean up after their pets, keep unvaccinated puppies away from other dogs and keep dogs showing signs of illness away from to keep others.
Earlier this month, Ostego County Animal Shelter posted about the mysterious disease that infected dogs in the area, saying several dogs developed parvo-like symptoms but tested negative. “Most of these dogs died within 3 days,” the animal shelter wrote in its Facebook post. “These dogs are usually under 2 years old. Some dogs have been vaccinated.”
“No one has an answer. The best ‘guess’ is that this is some kind of parvo,” the shelter said at the time, adding that they hadn’t talked about the disease until then “because we really don’t know anything.”
The animal shelter had been in close contact with vets in surrounding towns to find out how Gaylord, Traverse City, Grayling, Mancelona and Indian River were trying to figure this out, saying the infected dogs were not in any particular area.
Last Friday, the animal shelter posted an update saying the disease doesn’t affect certain breeds more than others, and that the disease was detected in dogs from many counties around northern and central Michigan. The shelter said at the time that although the baffling disease has killed a number of dogs in the area, it has not seen dogs die “that have been properly vaccinated”. In Clare County, Rudi Hicks, director of Animal Control, said last week that all dogs with symptoms of the disease had died, regardless of their vaccine status, according to the Clare County Cleaver.
The shelter said the disease could be a strain of the parvovirus, though the cause is not yet known. It also mentioned that there are “numerous” canine diseases that exhibit symptoms similar to parvovirus, and veterinarians may therefore treat individual cases differently. Nevertheless, the shelter urged people to get their dogs properly vaccinated against the parvovirus. Otsego County Animal Control and the Shelter will host a parvovirus vaccine clinic at the Otsego County Fire Department this week on Wednesday, Aug. 24.
CBS News has contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and is awaiting a response.