Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon
Animal Rights

Deadly New Canine Disease Killing Dogs in Ohio; Was Virus Transported from California? (VIDEO)

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After the sudden deaths of four dogs in various areas of Ohio, dog owners are being warned to carefully monitor their dogs’ health and, in the event of any unusual coughing, difficulty in breathing, or other sudden symptoms, they are advised to take the pet to their veterinarian or an emergency clinic immediately, NBC4 reports.

A newly discovered virus in Ohio can kill dogs in as little as 48 hours from the time symptoms are noticed, according to veterinarians. So far, three dogs in the Cincinnati area have died and others have become very sick. The pets that have survived have had immediate veterinary care and the administration of fluids to save them., say Ohio state officials.

The symptoms include bloody diarrhea and vomiting, extreme lethargy, neurological problems, coughing, a lack of appetite and rapid weight loss, veterinarians report.

Ohio officials confirmed a very unusual case of circovirus in a dog in the Akron area and they are comparing samples taken from other dogs who have fallen ill, according to the Plain Dealer.

Dr. Melanie Butera, a veterinarian at Elm Ridge Animal Hospital in Canal Fulton, treated all four of the Akron-area dogs who were extremely ill with very similar symptoms.

The two worst cases came in collapsed and weak, she said, with high heart rates and fluid around their lungs. One of the dogs died. All were around 3 or 4 years old, and none of the owners knew each other or spent time together.

“The dogs were so profoundly sick, over such a short period of time,” she said, which is what set off alarm bells for her. One of the dogs, who survived the illness, was leaking fluid from his gums, she told Cleveland.com.

Circovirus is a novel virus from “a family of viruses that has not been known to cause disease in dogs prior to this year,” said Dr. Butera.

She also told reporters that she has not seen any more cases since sending samples from the affected dogs to the state. However, she said she heard from a colleague in the Akron area who may have treated another dog with similar symptoms and who also sent samples to the state for testing.

TEST SAMPLES SENT TO UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT DAVIS

Ohio state pathologists have also reportedly sent samples taken from the ill and dead dogs to a lab at the University of California at-Davis to test them for circovirus. A one-year-old beagle with circovirus died in California in the spring. The California school’s lab has the equipment to test for the circovirus, which had not previously been diagnosed in dogs but is common in pigs.

A study detailing the California case was released in April in the Centers for Disease Control’s online journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases,” states Cleveland.com.

DID DEADLY VIRUS BEGIN IN CALIFORNIA?

On August 16, the Ohio Department of Agriculture first warned owners to closely watch their pets after several dog deaths were reported in Norwood, Ohio, north of Cincinnati.

All of the dogs that died had spent time at the same boarding facility, but subsequent extensive testing of the food, water and surfaces in the facility showed no signs of anything that could have triggered the illnesses, according to the facility’s owner.

Their symptoms included bloody diarrhea and vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, neurological problems, and weight loss.

These symptoms are similar to a disease that killed several dogs in California in the spring and pathologists suspect the Ohio outbreaks are the same disease. Necropsy results from affected dogs in Ohio show the presence of the circovirus that affected the California dogs, according to the report.

This is the first time this virus has appeared in Ohio. Officials are trying to determine if canine circovirus is a contributor to the illness or is actually the sole cause.

It’s important to note that, according to the study of UC Davis, more than two thirds of the dogs infected with circovirus in California also had a co-infection with other diseases, comments DogsNaturally.

Vets say they have an increase in the number of concerned owners calling about their dogs. Experts encourage anyone who sees the symptoms in their pet to immediately visit a veterinarian, because this illness can easily be mistaken for other less serious health issues.

A WAKE-UP CALL REGARDING ‘TRANSPORTS OR JUST A COINCIDENCE?

Is the discovery of circovirus in dogs a wake-up call regarding the mass transports of thousands of homeless, overstressed—usually stray— dogs and cats from shelter to shelter across the United States and even into Canada? These animals may have just received vaccinations immediately prior to being placed in overcrowded vehicles without proper ventilation and sanitation. They sometimes travel long distances under very inhumane and unsanitary conditions.

Perhaps the tragic deaths of the dogs in California and Ohio are a warning of the need to focus attention on the health and safety aspect of the increasing popular trend of transporting to improve the “live release” statistics of animal shelters and rescuers.

Read also: L.A. Shelter Dogs Transported to Canada: Rescue or Ruse?

Sources: Paw Nation, Cleveland.com, Dogs Naturally Magazine