UPDATE 8/24/22 - The below information was provided by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MDARD):
To date, the results from the additional testing facilitated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (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. The affected dogs did not have a history of complete vaccination.
“Canine parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease in dogs and veterinary professionals have extensive experience with this virus," said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “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. Dog owners across Michigan must work closely with their veterinarians to ensure their dogs are appropriately vaccinated and given timely boosters to keep their pets safe and healthy. Protecting Michigan’s dogs is a team effort."
Based on this information, we continue to support our recommendations below. You can learn more about parvo on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s Canine Parvovirus page.
We have received numerous questions regarding a parvo-like illness which has caused the illness and death of dogs in northern lower Michigan. In an effort to keep you informed, we’ve tried to summarize the most pertinent information below. If you have questions above and beyond this, please don’t hesitate to reach out and we’ll do our best to help.
The outbreak is believed to have started in Otsego County (Gaylord area), though some other areas of northern and central Michigan have reported similar cases.
Dogs became ill with parvo-like signs such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Unfortunately, some of them progressed to death within several days of symptom onset. For additional background information, canine parvovirvus (“parvo”) is a highly contagious gastrointestinal virus which is most common in puppies and unvaccinated adult dogs. It is prevalent here in Michigan, though is not transmissable to humans or other animals. It is also important to note that vaccination against parvo is very effective. You can learn more about it on the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)’s Canine Parvovirus page. Most of the affected dogs were under two years of age or elderly. It may give you some measure of comfort to know that according to the Otsego County Animal Shelter, “We have not seen any dogs…die that are PROPERLY vaccinated”.
Multiple animal health partners are investigating this outbreak, including the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), local animal control agencies, the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, local veterinarians, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), to name a few. Information is developing rapidly, however much is still forthcoming.
To date, although some of the samples initially tested at clinics came back negative for parvo, some of the first samples tested by the MSU VDL have actually tested positive for parvo, though their work continues to further examine the possibility of parvo and to rule out a variety of other causes such as other infections, toxins, multiple causative agents working together, new strains of disease or new diseases, and so on.
As the investigation continues, we recommend the following:
- Be sure your dog is fully vaccinated against parvo and other serious infectious diseases in our area such as distemper, adenovirus, leptospirosis, parainfluenza, and rabies. If in doubt, please contact your veterinarian to verify your dog’s vaccination status.
- Be aware that puppies and newly vaccinated dogs are not maximally protected from disease until approximately two weeks after they have properly fulfilled their final vaccine in the series. Limiting exposure to other dogs (including places dogs frequent) is advisable until adequate time for maximal protection has elapsed because puppies and unvaccinated dogs are at much higher risk for infectious disease.
- Pick up after your dog in public places. Don’t allow him or her to come into contact with another pet’s waste.
- If your dog is showing signs of illness, keep him or her away from other dogs and seek veterinary assistance.
Rest assured that we will be monitoring this situation for further developments and are mindful of your concerns. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we may be of further assistance.