A mysterious disease is infecting dogs in Michigan and some cases appear to be fatal. It is a parvovirus-like illness, causing 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, Otsego County animal control and shelter director, told CBS News. County Clare had at least 10 dead and Ostego County about 10, but Fitzgerald said there could be more.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said to have received a report that a northern Michigan dog was vomiting and had diarrhea. These are common symptoms of canine parvovirus, but the animal tested negative for parvovirus at the veterinary clinic.
Other northern Michigan animal control agencies have reported seeing dogs exhibiting the same symptoms, as well as others commonly associated with parvovirus, such as lethargy and loss of appetite. The causes of the symptoms had not been determined.
The State Department is working with partners like the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture to learn more about the disease, but they are still in the early stages of the investigation. .
The samples were submitted to the state university laboratory and those who tested positive for canine parvovirus — but there are more results pending, State Veterinarian Nora Wineland said in a statement.
“When MDARD first learned of these cases in Northern Michigan, we immediately contacted the veterinarians and animal shelters involved and began our response efforts. Protecting animal and public health is one of the key pillars of the department, but it’s a team effort. Dog Owners should ensure their pet is up to date with routine vaccinations, as this is the first step in keeping your pet healthy.”
The department is urging pet owners to keep track of their dogs’ routine vaccinations, clean up after their pets, keep unvaccinated puppies away from other dogs, and keep dogs showing signs of illness away from others.
Earlier this month, Ostego County Animal Shelter published an article about the mysterious disease infecting 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 mostly under 2 years old. Some dogs have been vaccinated.”
“Nobody has an answer. The best ‘guess’ is that it’s a strain of parvo,” the shelter said. 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 trying to figure out Gaylord, Traverse City, Grayling, Mancelona and Indian River trying to figure this out, and said the infected dogs weren’t in any area.
Last Friday, the animal shelter released a update, saying the disease does not affect some breeds more than others, and that the disease has been detected in dogs in many counties in northern and central Michigan. The shelter said at the time that although the baffling disease had killed a number of dogs in the area, it had not seen any dogs “that were properly vaccinated” die. In County Clare, Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks said last week that all dogs showing symptoms of the disease had died regardless of their vaccination status, according to the County Clare Cleaver.
The shelter said the disease could be a strain of parvovirus, although the cause is not yet known. He also mentioned that there are “many” canine diseases that have similar symptoms to parvovirus, and so vets may treat individual cases differently. Nonetheless, the shelter urged people to properly vaccinate their dogs against parvovirus. Otsego County Animal Control and the shelter will be hosting a parvovirus vaccination clinic this week on Wednesday, August 24 at the Otsego County Fire Department.
CBS News has contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and is awaiting a response.