State and federal agencies are investigating an illness that has sickened and killed dozens of dogs in Otsego County after they showed signs of a “parvo-like” illness.
Some of the tests from sick or dead dogs have come back positive for canine parvovirus, a highly contagious virus that can affect all dogs. Michigan State University is encouraging veterinarians to pursue additional tests in cases where screening tests for parvovirus are negative.
“Please call the Laboratory with any questions about sample collection, submission, or diagnostic options and contact MDARD if unusual or reportable illnesses are seen,” Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory said in a release.
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is working to learn more about reports of the illness and is conducting more tests.
“We are still in the early stages of this investigation, but some of the first samples submitted to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were positive for canine parvovirus. However, there are more results pending and more to be learned,” State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “When MDARD first learned of these cases in northern Michigan, we immediately reached out to the veterinarians and animal shelters involved and began our response efforts. Protecting animal and public health is one of the department’s key pillars, but it is a team effort. Dog owners need to ensure their pet is up to date on routine vaccinations as it’s the first step in keeping your pet healthy.”
The Otsego County Animal Shelter said in a Facebook post that some of the dogs sick with “parvo-like” symptoms are testing negative for parvovirus and die within a few days. According to an earlier Facebook post, the shelter said the best guess was that a strain of parvovirus was causing the illnesses and deaths.
They also made the following statements, hoping to clear up any confusion:
- The illness does not affect certain breeds more than others
- They have heard of many counties around northern and central Michigan with reports of illnesses
- They have not seen any properly vaccinated dogs die
- Those affected have been puppies under two and elderly dogs
The Otsego County Animal Shelter is holding a vaccination clinic 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. on every Wednesday from Aug. 24 until Sept. 21 at the Otsego County Fire Hall, S. Wisconsin, Gaylord. Click here to learn more.
How you can protect your dog from parvovirus
The most important way to protect your dog is to keep up with routine vaccinations, especially if you plan on traveling.
Ensure your dog is vaccinated against canine parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis.
Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months old are most at risk for severe illness from parvovirus. The virus affects a dog’s gastrointestinal tract and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with feces, environments or people, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
If you have a puppy, make sure it has been fully vaccinated before you allow it to interact with other animals. You should keep all dogs and puppies away from other dogs if they have any signs of illness.
Make sure you clean up after your pet when you’re walking them in public to prevent the spread of illnesses. The virus can spread from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs, or through contaminated cages, shoes or other objects.
Parvovirus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying. It is known to survive in the environment for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important to get your dog vaccinated.
Parvovirus is not contagious to people or other animals.
Symptoms of parvovirus in puppies
Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following symptom onset, according to the AVMA. There aren’t any specific drugs that can kill the virus in infected dogs and treatment is to support the dog as it fights the infection.
The American Kennel Club said the following are symptoms of parvovirus in puppies.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
If your puppy has any of these symptoms you should contact your veterinarian.
How to clean after parvovirus
It is very difficult to completely eliminate the virus in your home after an infection has been present.
According to McEwen Animal Clinic, freezing is completely protective to the virus so if your yard is frozen you have to wait for it to thaw before you introduce a new puppy. Shaded areas should be considered contaminated for seven months and sunny areas should be considered contaminated for five months.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, bleach works for inactivating the virus. Bleach can be used on surfaces such as stainless steel or sealed floors but another option should be used for porous surfaces.
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