A relatively new canine virus potentially has found its way to southeast Michigan.
The Canine Circovirus was first seen in 2012 in San Diego and a localized outbreak was recently reported in parts of Ohio. The reports on the cases in Ohio stated that people should be concerned about their animal if it has bloody vomit or diarrhea.
Other symptoms to be on the lookout for are flu-like symptoms, such as abdominal pain, lethargy, coughing, and sneezing. While many animals are able to be treated on an outpatient basis with basic medications, some are so sick they need to be hospitalized and some have even required surgery.
"Although the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association has not yet released an official statement to confirm the presence of Circovirus in Michigan, at EVH we have seen at least four dogs in the past few months that we suspect passed away from this condition," said Dr. Lindsay Ruland, owner and chief of medicine at Emergency Veterinary Hospital of Ann Arbor. "All of the dogs had severe inflammation in their intestinal tract, an infected or abscessed pancreas, enlarged abdominal lymph nodes, and exhibited varying degrees of lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea."
Dr. Ruland says her clinic recently had a severe case where a puppy presented minimal symptoms and was simply lethargic, but surgically it had such severe inflammation of its vasculature that it caused the liver and pancreas to become abscessed. He had had no vomiting or diarrhea. Dr. Ruland reports that the most severe cases are passing away within 24 hours.
"We want to alert people that, although we do not know what this condition is or if these cases are related, any animal (dog, cat, rabbit, bird) that exhibits signs of significant lethargy, anorexia, abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, especially if there is blood in it or they appear to have an upper respiratory infection, needs to be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately," said Dr. Ruland.
Emergency Veterinary Hospital has submitted samples to the Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for Circovirus testing. No word, yet, on when those results will be available. Even if the results indicate there is Circovirus present, a vaccine will likely not be available for several years.
Dr. Ruland says, "Several of these sick animals present with flu-like symptoms after being around owners or other people who have had either upper respiratory infections or similar symptoms. Although viruses typically do not cross species, until we know more, we are advising pet owners to practice good handwashing techniques, especially after handling their pet’s excretions."