A canine parvovirus-like epidemic that killed Michigan canines in a matter of days has officials stumped, although it is similar to instances in Mexico.
Elisa Mazzaferro, an associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told The Detroit News on Monday that the virus made her think of instances handled by a medical professional at an emergency room in Mexico City. Director of the Animal shelter in Otsego County Melissa FitzGerald recommended pet owners to take their dogs to the doctor right away if they see any parvovirus-like symptoms in their dogs, including lack of appetite, lethargy, bloody stools, vomiting, and diarrhea.
FitzGerald said that the canine parvovirus strikes quickly, dividing cells throughout the body—including those in the digestive tract—and causing vomiting and diarrhea.
Even dogs that have had a canine parvovirus vaccination have developed illnesses, and the majority of dogs sick with the mystery virus test negative for the virus. Dogs often succumb to the infection within three days. So far, the unidentified ailment has claimed the lives of almost 50 pets.
Both humans and other animals are immune to the canine parvovirus.
The canine parvovirus was detected during necropsies on multiple preliminary samples of affected dogs, according to a study released on Monday by the Michigan Dept. of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). MDARD did not, however, clearly link the incidence to canine parvovirus. State veterinarian Nora Wineland confirmed that the probe had only begun and that further information was awaited.
Although this inquiry is still in its early stages, several of the first samples sent to the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. at Michigan State University were found to be positive for canine parvovirus. However, there are still more findings to come and more to be discovered, according to Wineland.
Director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab. (VDL) at Michigan State University (MSU) Kim Dodd emphasized to MLive that if the state and university were unable to identify the origin of the epidemic, they would “explore creative theories” like new viral variations.
Last Friday, MDARD made an announcement about their epidemic response.
Before expanding to Clare County, the first instances emerged across Otsego County.
In a Facebook post from earlier this month, the Otsego County Animal Shelter revealed that most of the dogs that had the mysterious sickness in their region were less than two years old and passed away within three days. Their director, Melissa Fitzgerald, reiterated on Monday that no survivors had been reported.
Although the shelter claimed to have spoken with MDARD and veterinarians in their area, no one has been able to pinpoint the cause of the epidemic.
“No one knows the solution. The shelter said that the best “guess” was that this was a strain of parvo.”
The shelter made it clear in a follow-up that they had additional reports from central Michigan as well as northern Michigan. Contrary to what the head of the shelter had reportedly said earlier in the week, the shelter stated that adequately immunized canines hadn’t perished from the illness in their region.
However, Clare County Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks informed the Clare County Board of Commissioners last Wednesday that all afflicted canines, whether they had received a vaccination or not, had passed away. The state, according to Hicks, was “in a frenzy” about the unidentified virus.
Officials are asking Michigan dog owners to hold off on bringing their pets to dog parks and on walks until further notice.