UPDATE 8/24: According to the State Veterinarian, the results from the additional testing facilitated by MDARD and completed by the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL) have revealed the illness impacting dogs in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula to be canine parvovirus. According to their findings, the affected dogs did not have a history of complete vaccination.

MSU VDL director Kim Dodd, DVM, said in a release

“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. Screening tests for parvo are done to help guide immediate isolation, disinfection, and treatment protocols. 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. We continue to further characterize the virus in hopes of better understanding why those animals were testing negative on screening tests.”

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UPDATE 8/23: The number of dogs suspected of dying from a mysterious illness in Northern Michigan is now up to 60, Wood TV 8 reports.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is working with vets and shelters in the region to learn more about the canine parvovirus-like illness.

In a release issued August 22, 2022, State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM, said,

We are still in the early stages of this investigation, but some of the first samples submitted to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory were positive for canine parvovirus. However, there are more results pending and more to be learned. When MDARD first learned of these cases in northern Michigan, we immediately reached out to the veterinarians and animal shelters involved and began our response efforts. Protecting animal and public health is one of the department’s key pillars, but it is a team effort. Dog owners need to ensure their pet is up to date on routine vaccinations as it’s the first step in keeping your pet healthy.

 

Original Story 8/11/22: A Northern Michigan animal shelter is warning of a canine disease spreading through the area, in which many dogs have become ill, and some have died.

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Otsego County Animal Shelter Warns of Parvo-Like Disease Killing Dogs in Northern Michigan

The Otsego County Animal Shelter is located in Gaylord, Michigan, which is in the central, northern part of the Lower Peninsula.

Director of the Shelter, Melissa Fitzgerald, issued a public service announcement about a parvo-like disease that is making dogs sick in the area.

While the illness presents as parvo, Fitzgerald says,

When taken to the vet the dogs are tested and the tests come back negative. Most of these dogs have passed within 3 days. These dogs are mostly under the age of 2. Some of the dogs were vaccinated.

The Otsego County Animal Shelter has been working with vets in Northern Michigan, the State Veterinarian, and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to try to determine what is happening and the best course of action.

According to Fitzgerald, while they do not know for certain what the illness is, their best guess is that it is a strain of parvo.

What is Parvo?

According to the Baker Institute for Animal health,

Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that commonly causes acute gastrointestinal illness in puppies. The disease most often strikes in pups between six and 20 weeks old, but older animals are sometimes also affected.

Symptoms can include lethargy, depression, and lack of appetite, followed by a sudden onset of high fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Treatment for parvo can vary and focuses on supportive care and management of symptoms. Often, hospitalization is necessary to receive IV fluids. Blood transfusions and antibiotics are also used in the treatment of parvo.

How Can You Protect Your Dog?

According to Fitzgerald, the sick dogs in Northern Michigan are not limited to just one area.

She says the Otsego County Animal Shelter has received reports of the disease from Vanderbilt, the City of Gaylord, and south and west of Gaylord as well.

Fitzgerald's announcement was posted on August 9, 2022.

She says,

We have not spoken to this until now because we really don't know anything.

 

The only thing is to make sure your pets are vaccinated and at the first sign of illness get to the veterinarian.

I first saw the shelter's PSA shared in a Michigan Camping Facebook group, as a warning to visitors about the risks of bringing their dogs to the area.

If you have a visit planned to Northern Michigan near Gaylord, it might be wise to reconsider bringing your dog along for the time being.

Surrey Veterinary Clinic in Clare, Mich., has also issued a statement on the mysterious canine disease.

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