The alarming, deadly virus which was first reported in California earlier this year and then mysteriously appeared in Ohio is now killing dogs in Michigan.
Cases of the virus similar to circovirus (typically associated with pigs) have been reported all across Ohio, and now six Michigan dogs have died from it. There is no name yet for the mysterious illness, but necropsy results from affected dogs in Ohio show the presence of the circovirus that affected the California dogs, reports lifewithdogs.com.
A Detroit veterinary clinic reports that it has never seen such a rapidly fatal virus, which kills “usually within about 12 to 24 hours of it starting,” said Dr. Lindsay Ruland of the Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Ann Arbor.
She speculates that it may possibly be transmitted from humans to dogs, although no humans or other animals have died from the virus. “Traditionally we don’t pass viruses to our pets. This year, I think that there is potential that we are passing it to our pets,” Dr. Ruland said.
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Dr. Melanie Butera, a veterinarian at Elm Ridge Animal Hospital in Canal Fulton, who treated four dogs that died in the Akron, Ohio, area last month said they all exhibited 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. One of the dogs, who survived the illness, was leaking fluid from his gums.”
Symptoms can include lethargy, abdominal pain, lack of appetite, and most notably, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Dogs displaying these symptoms should be rushed to a vet, especially if someone they’ve been in close contact with is also under the weather. Dogs can be saved, but only if they are treated immediately.
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“The laboratory confirmation is important because the virus is newly isolated, however we are not prepared at this time to confirm that canine circovirus is the cause of the dog illnesses,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey.
“Because the symptoms being exhibited can also be linked to other known illnesses, additional analysis and information is needed to determine if this virus alone or in co-infection contributes to illness and death in dogs.”
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.
It is unknown how the virus is transmitted, but it may be spreading through saliva and feces. Doctors are now recommending that people wash their hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and hot water before and after touching their pets and their pets’ food, bedding, toys, etc.
For the time, none of these items should be shared between animals, especially if people around them have had flu-like symptoms, and contact between dogs should be limited, or avoided altogether if it is known that a dog—or a human who has interacted physically with the dog—has been sick recently.
TRANSPORTING SHELTER/”RESCUE” DOGS
The tragic and painful deaths of these dogs and the fact that this virus is traveling to disjoined states should be of extreme concern to those who are engaged in transporting shelter/rescue animals without knowledge of their health--nor the health of those who are handling them. Thousands of animals per year travel from state to state and are transferred to numerous facilities nationwide for homeless animals without monitoring.
State health officials have no records of these stray animals with unknown health histories entering via cross-country transports, which can involve dozens of animals in carriers being crammed into the back of commercial vans or trucks without proper ventilation. This increasingly popular practice ignores the issues of communicable diseases and stress on the animals in the mania to increase the “live release” statistics of animal shelters and rescuers so they can appear to be “No Kill.”
Source: Life with Dogs