‘Parvovirus Disease’ in Michigan Dogs Investigated, Dozens of Deaths Reported


Canine parvovirus has been identified as the disease that has killed dozens of dogs over the past month in the northern and central parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, state officials said Wednesday.

It has killed more than 20 dogs in Otsego County alone, usually within days of showing symptoms of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy and loss of appetite, Gaylord County Animal Shelter, 60 miles northeast of Traverse City, said friday on Facebook.

More than 30 dogs have died of similar symptoms in County Clare, three counties to the south, that county’s director of animal control said last week, according to the County Clare Cleaver. Similar reports have been made in northern and central Michigan.

“Canine parvovirus is a serious and highly contagious disease in dogs, but (the state) and veterinary professionals have extensive experience with this virus,” State Veterinarian Nora Wineland said in a statement. statement Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Dogs that aren’t fully vaccinated are most at risk, Wineland noted, adding that effective vaccines are available.

Full vaccination protects animals against serious illnesses, and the cases should not cause dog owners to “dramatically change” how they care for their pets or where they plan to travel, according to the statement.

Routine canine vaccinations include those against parvovirus, the department added.

Experts have been challenged after affected dogs tested negative during initial screening by vets, the Otsego County Shelter and the County Clare Animal Control Director had said.

“While these tests are valuable in the clinical setting, they are not as sensitive as the diagnostic tests that we can perform here in the laboratory. We continue to further characterize the virus in hopes of better understanding why these animals tested negative when tested,” said Kim Dodd, director of the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Some of the first samples submitted to the Michigan State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were positive for parvovirus, laboratory and the state department of agriculture said Monday.

Dogs affected in Otsego County are usually under 2 years old or older, the county shelter said.

“We have not seen any dogs… die that are CORRECTLY vaccinated,” reads the shelter’s Facebook post.

Canine parvovirus is transmitted through dog-to-dog contact and through contact with contaminated feces and environments, according to the Veterinary Medical Association. It is not contagious to people or other types of animals, the state agriculture department said.

No medicine will kill parvovirus in infected dogs, so treatment for this virus focuses on supporting the body’s systems – including replacing lost electrolytes, proteins and fluids – so that the immune system can fight infection, the veterinary medical association said.

Survival rates for parvovirus “can approach 90%” with proper treatment, although when death does occur it usually occurs 48 to 72 hours after symptoms start, according to the association.

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