The mystery illness killing dogs in Michigan has finally been identified as parvovirus.
Over 30 dogs in Michigan died when an outbreak occurred at a shelter. Panic ensued after veterinarians could not initially identify what was causing the deaths.
The state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) was able to identify the mystery disease as parvovirus after testing was done at Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Lansing.
Parvovirus is a common disease that can kill dogs that are not fully vaccinated against it.
‘Canine parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease in dogs, but MDARD and veterinary professionals have extensive experience with this virus,’ said state veterinarian Nora Wineland.
The dogs in the state were ‘consistently’ tested for parvovirus, but each test result turned up negative.
‘This situation is complex because although the dogs displayed clinical signs suggestive of parvovirus, they consistently test negative by point-of-care tests performed in clinics and shelters,’ said lab director Kim Dodd.
‘While those tests are valuable in the clinical setting, they are not as sensitive as the diagnostic tests we can perform here in the laboratory.’
Veterinarians said that pet owners should drastically change the way they care for their pets with this news. The best way to protect your dogs is to make sure they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
‘We have a highly effective vaccine available to help protect dogs from the virus. Dogs that are not fully vaccinated against this virus are the most at risk,’ Wineland said.
Veterinarians also recommended that unvaccinated dogs and puppies be kept away from other animals until they get their shots. If a pet exhibits any symptoms of parvovirus, such as vomiting, diarrhea, or changes in appetite, a vet should be contacted immediately.
They also recommend pet owners thoroughly clean up after their pets on walks, as parvovirus primarily spreads through feces.
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