A mysterious canine parvovirus-like disease has claimed more than 30 lives in Michigan
It may have been “dog days of the summer,” but many Michigan dogs seem to have it particularly “ruff” lately. An as-yet-unidentified pathogen, believed to be a virus, has spread through the state and is believed to have already killed more than 30 dogs. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) said it is working with local animal control agencies, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and others to further investigate the reports of a canine parvovirus-like illness affecting dogs in northern Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. This is the upper hand of the Michigan mitt.
Note that the MDARD said “similar to canine parvovirus” and not just “canine parvovirus”. While until now the illnesses seemed very much related to canine parvovirus, the stools of affected dogs tested negative for standard canine parvovirus. Assuming all is well with the stool tests, this suggests the culprit may be either a new type of canine parvovirus yet to be discovered, or an entirely different pathogen. Although there is an effective vaccine against your standard canine parvovirus, both vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs have fallen ill in this Michigan outbreak. Dianne Alward-Biery, writing for the County Clare Cleaverquoted County Clare Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks as telling the County Clare Board of Commissioners on August 17: ‘As of today, as of last Thursday [August 11] so far, we’ve had more than 30 dogs dead from a virus, a disease — not at the shelter — in the county. He mimics Parvo, so it’s vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and they’re all dead in three days: vaccinated dogs and unvaccinated dogs. It should be noted that August 11 was technically the end of “summer dog days” based on the Farmer’s Almanac. Hicks also said infected dogs have died within three days of their first symptoms.
Such a course of the disease is very similar to Parvo. When dogs get sick with canine parvovirus, it’s often not a walk in the park. They may suffer from fever, hypothermia, lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, bloating and vomiting. And poo there is. Dogs can have severe, often bloody diarrhea that can dehydrate them. This can cause septic shock and lead to death within 48 to 72 hours. So if your dog tells you he has canine parvovirus, after you say “how the hell are you talking to me” and “how the hell do you know, did you google your symptoms”, make sure you that you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. There is no specific medication for canine parvovirus disease, but the veterinarian can administer aggressive electrolyte, protein, and fluid replacement therapy to prevent shock and death.
And isolate your dog from everyone and all other dogs. Canine parvovirus is very, very contagious. A very small amount of poo can contain enough virus to infect others. And since dogs aren’t always good at using the toilet, washing their paws, and not licking everything you see, infected dogs can end up contaminating kennel surfaces, bowls, collars, leashes, seamen. dog uniforms and other items around them. This includes people’s hands and clothes. Therefore, thoroughly clean and disinfect anything an infected dog has touched.
Also, if you haven’t already, get your dog vaccinated against canine parvovirus as well as rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis. The canine parvovirus vaccine may not protect against this yet to be determined canine parvovirus-like disease, but it does provide very good (but not 100%) protection against standard canine parvovirus. A small percentage of vaccinated dogs may still be infected with standard canine parvovirus. Now, you probably don’t have to worry about getting sick from canine parvovirus, assuming you don’t have four legs, a tail, and a strong predilection for licking yourself. The parvoviruses that can infect humans are different from canine parvovirus, which is the reason for the word “canine.”
Of course, it’s still unclear what specific pathogen is causing this current outbreak in Michigan. No human illnesses have been reported to date. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to maintain proper infection prevention precautions. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, making sure to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 “woof-woofs”. Keep all areas that your dog may have touched clean and disinfected. And pay attention to any symptoms your dog may have. It is your dog duty to tell if there is something wrong with your dog’s doody.