Officials warn of dogs being killed by mysterious viral disease in northern Michigan

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A mysterious virus has been sickening and killing dogs in northern Michigan in recent weeks, prompting health officials to urge dog owners to make sure their pets are fully vaccinated and vaccinated. If they are sick, keep them isolated.

In Otsego County alone, more than 20 dogs have died within three to four days of showing symptoms of the disease, which are similar to highly contagious. canine parvovirusOtsego County animal shelter director, Melissa Fitzgerald, told HuffPost Tuesday.

Not all of the county’s fatally afflicted dogs were properly vaccinated against parvovirus and most were 2 years old or younger, she said.

“It’s so scary,” Fitzgerald said of the illness, whose symptoms include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and loss of appetite. “My dogs aren’t leaving my property, and I take off my clothes when I get home because I don’t know what I’ll get in the day.”

A pit bull terrier seen in a cage at an animal shelter. In northern Michigan, more than 20 dogs have died in recent weeks from a mysterious disease that has been compared to the highly contagious canine parvovirus, officials said.

Heather Paul via Getty Images

It has been suggested that the disease may be a new strain of parvovirus. That’s because the dogs believed to have died had initially tested negative for the virus while still alive, but were later found with parvo during an autopsy, Fitzgerald said.

“So they’re testing negative on intake. However, after dying and doing an autopsy, they’re coming back with parvo. So is it a different strain? Possibly. Is it a strain with something else? Possibly. It’s hard to say at the moment,” she said.

Fitzgerald said the state is doing its best to come up with a solution, but it needs more canine samples as part of its research. She acknowledged that asking a pet owner to turn over her dog’s body for an autopsy shortly after her death is a “difficult job.”

“Is it an isolated tension? Possibly. Is it a tension with something else? Possibly. It’s hard to say at the moment.”

—Melissa Fitzgerald, Otsego County Animal Shelter Director

Across the state, it is unclear how many dogs have been affected because parvovirus is not a disease that has been reported to the state vet, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is investigating the virus.

“We have anecdotal information putting Parvo case numbers between 15-25 or higher, but there has been no confirmation,” Jennifer Holton, MDARD Communications Director, told HuffPost in a statement Tuesday.

Owners should have their pets thoroughly vaccinated, and if a dog is showing signs of illness they should be taken to the vet and kept away from other dogs at home, MDARD advises. The agency said people should also clean up after their pets when walking in public to prevent the virus from spreading.

that’s because parvo can spread among dogs through direct contact with an infected dog or indirect contact with a contaminated object, such as a food or water bowl, a collar, or stool, According to the American Kennel Club,

“Protecting animal and public health is one of the key pillars of the department, but it is a team effort,” state veterinarian Nora Vinland said in a statement Monday. “Dog owners need to make sure their pets are up to date on routine vaccinations because this is the first step in keeping your pet healthy.”

Because Michigan dog owners can self-vaccinate their pets for parvo by purchasing the vaccine at a farm storm, Fitzgerald called for ensuring that the vaccine, which is administered in a series, is properly distributed. Is. This includes keeping the vaccine cold constantly.

“Some people don’t know that the vaccine has to be kept at a refrigerated temperature,” she said of people who may leave the vaccine in their car after purchase, turning it into an ineffective “vial of water.” .

“There’s a lot of pieces of the pie in this whole thing,” she said.

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