Mysterious Illness Killing Dogs In Michigan Identified As Parvovirus

A mysterious illness has been killing dozens of dogs throughout the state of Michigan, leaving shelters, veterinarians, and dog owners confused and concerned.

Officials have been working hard to identify the illness and they’ve finally had success: The mystery illness has been identified as canine parvovirus.

Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development announced the findings on August 24, 2022.


In a tweet, the department wrote:

“To date, the results from the additional testing facilitated by MDARD and completed by the MSU VDL have revealed the illness impacting dogs in Michigan to be canine parvovirus. The affected dogs did not have a history of complete vaccination.”

In a press release, State Veterinarian Nora Wineland said: “Canine parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease in dogs, but the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and veterinary professionals have extensive experience with this virus.”

She went on to say that the state has a “highly effective vaccine available to help protect dogs from the virus.”

Dogs that are not fully vaccinated against parvovirus are at the highest risk of contracting the disease and suffering the consequences. Dog owners should work with their veterinarians to ensure their pets are properly vaccinated.

The diagnosis has left many puzzled, as an animal shelter in Otsego County reported 30+ animals falling victim to the illness, and all of the animals tested negative for parvovirus, according to the New York Post.

Photo: flickr/Wonderlane

DVM Kim Dodd, the Michigan State University Director, noted in the press release that the situation in Michigan is “complex.”

She said, “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.”

She went on to explain that screening tests done for parvo in a shelter setting are valuable but not as accurate as those performed in a laboratory. She explained: “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.”

Photo: Pexels/Neuron Photos

Officials stressed in the press release that parvovirus is not contagious to other species of domesticated animals or to humans.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, symptoms of parvovirus include the following:

– lethargy
– loss of appetite
– abdominal pain and bloating
– fever or low body temperature
– vomiting
– and severe diarrhea (can be bloody)

If your dog is experiencing symptoms of parvovirus it’s important to contact a veterinarian immediately. Most deaths from the virus occur within two to three days after symptoms present.

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