State Veterinarian’s Update on Canine Parvovirus Cases in Northern Michigan

LANSING, MI – To date, results from additional testing facilitated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and completed by Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL) revealed that the disease affecting dogs in the lower peninsula of northern Michigan was canine parvovirus. Affected dogs had no history of full vaccination.

“Canine parvovirus is a serious and highly contagious disease in dogs, but MDARD and veterinarians have extensive experience with this virus,” the state veterinarian said. Nora Wineland, DVM. “We have a very effective vaccine available to help protect dogs against the virus. Dogs that are not fully vaccinated against this virus are most at risk. Michigan dog owners should work closely with their veterinarians to ensure their dogs are properly vaccinated and receive timely boosters to keep their pets safe and healthy. Protecting Michigan’s dogs is a team effort.

“This situation is complex because although the dogs have shown clinical signs suggestive of parvovirus, they are consistently testing negative by point-of-care testing performed in clinics and shelters,” said Director MSU VDL Kim Dodd, DVM. “Parvo testing is being done to help guide immediate isolation, disinfection and treatment protocols. Although these tests are useful in a 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.

Veterinarians are encouraged to pursue additional diagnostics at the MSU VDL when tests for canine parvovirus are negative but the clinical presentation is consistent with parvovirus infection. Please call MSU VDL (517-353-1683) with questions regarding specimen collection, submission, or diagnostic options and contact MDARD (800-292-3939) if unusual or reportable illnesses are observed.

The discovery of these cases should not cause dog owners to drastically change the way they care for their pets or where they travel. If dogs are fully vaccinated against canine parvovirus, they are protected against serious illnesses, but it is important to always consult your veterinarian.

Because canine parvovirus is a common disease in dogs, veterinary clinic staff know how to keep dogs safe when seeing them for vaccinations and other forms of preventative care.

MDARD encourages all dog owners to take a few simple steps to protect their pets:

Follow routine vaccinations ensuring dogs/puppies are vaccinated against canine parvovirus, rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza and leptospirosis by a veterinarian.
Have dogs/puppies fully vaccinated before interacting with other animals to keep them healthy and safe.
Keep dogs/puppies home and away from other dogs if they show signs of illness and contact your veterinarian.
Be sure to clean up after your pet when walking it in public.

Canine parvovirus is NOT contagious to humans or other species of pets. The disease is common in Michigan and does not need to be reported at the state veterinarian’s office.

State Statement on Vet Dog Virus

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