Authorities are investigating a mysterious canine parvovirus-like illness that has killed more than 30 dogs in northern Michigan, with most dying in just three days.
The animals died in Otsego County after showing symptoms of canine parvovirus, including vomiting and blood in their stool, the county animal shelter said on social media. However, when the vets initially tested the dogs, they tested negative for the virus.
Canine parvovirus is highly contagious and affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, with unvaccinated dogs and puppies under 4 months of age most at risk, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. The disease first emerged among dogs in Europe around 1976, but has become less prevalent thanks to the development of effective vaccines, according to the Baker Institute for Animal Health.
It can be spread by direct dog-to-dog contact or by contact with feces or contaminated environments.
The Otsego County Animal Shelter first posted about the cases in early August, saying they had received reports over the past month.
Melissa FitzGerald, director of the county’s animal shelter and control unit, told NBC News Tuesday that more than 30 dogs have shown symptoms and all are believed to have died of the disease.
Most of the dogs in Michigan that exhibited such symptoms died within three days, and most were less than 2 years old, according to the animal shelter.
The shelter said the disease does not appear to be affecting certain breeds more than others, and similar cases have been reported colloquially in northern and central Michigan, including Vanderbilt, the town of Gaylor, west of Gaylord and south of Michigan. Gaylord.
“No one has an answer. Best ‘guess’ is that it is a strain of parvo,” FitzGerald wrote on the shelter’s Facebook page.
NBC News has reached out to County Clare officials for an updated number on dog deaths.
The disturbing reports have prompted an investigation by several state and local agencies, including the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, animal control agencies, the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, veterinarians, and the Department of Agriculture. from the USA
The Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory is also assisting in the investigation by testing and looking for a cause. The lab said it will also explore “novel explanations such as new virus variants.”
State veterinarian Nora Wineland said in a statement Monday that the investigation is still in its early stages “but some of the first samples sent to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory tested positive for canine parvovirus.”
“However, there are more results to come and more to learn,” Wineland said.
He added that when the state 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 is a team effort.”
“Dog owners should make sure their pet is up to date on routine vaccinations, as this is the first step in keeping your pet healthy,” Wineland said.
State agriculture officials said canine parvovirus is commonly seen in Michigan and noted that the disease is not contagious to humans or other animals.
Now officials are urging pet owners to properly vaccinate their pets.
The Otsego County Animal Shelter said Friday, “We have not seen any dogs die that are PROPERLY vaccinated.”
A vaccination clinic will be held at the Otsego County Fire Department on Wednesday from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm and every Wednesday through September 21.