Scientists Investigate Mystery Disease Killing Puppies In US


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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A mystery disease has infected and killed at least 30 dogs in Michigan throughout the month of August.

The currently unidentified virus presents with symptoms similar to canine parvovirus, including acute gastrointestinal issues, and typically targets puppies aged between 6 and 20 weeks of age, according to the Clare County Cleaver. Testing for parvo has consistently revealed negative results, and all dogs unvaccinated and vaccinated against the disease have succumbed to the mystery illness, the outlet noted.

Almost all infected puppies have died within three days of symptoms starting, the Cleaver continued. Preliminary investigations suggest the virus is either a new strain of parvo or something completely different, according to Clare County Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks who spoke with the outlet.

“It mimics Parvo, but they are all testing negative,” Hicks told the Cleaver. “All of the dogs have died, vaccinated and unvaccinated. We just had eight dogs in our county, that we know of. We took a dog down yesterday for necropsy that just died of it, but don’t have the results back.”

The first 20 cases were identified in Otsego County, but the virus is believed to have come out of Louisiana and could be everywhere, the outlet reported. Hicks told the Cleaver she won’t take her own canines to dog parks or camping “because there’s no cure. There’s no vaccine because they haven’t identified it yet.”

More than 30 dogs have died in Clare County since Thursday, eight of whom lived on Hicks’ street in Michigan, according to USA Today. While most of those were puppies, older dogs have also contracted the virus, leading to bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy prior to death, the outlet continued.

“There are outbreaks like this that occur periodically,” Davis School of Veterinary Medicine professor Jane Sykes told USA Today. “Sometimes it is a new pathogen, sometimes a combination of pathogens together with stressors in shelter environments, sometimes it can relate to diagnostic test problems, or problems with vaccination protocols.” (RELATED: World’s First Predator Might Have Just Been Discovered, And It’s Terrifying)

Multiple agencies and animal shelters in Michigan are working together to determine the origin and treatment of the virus, according to a Facebook post from Otsego County Animal Shelter. Pet owners are urged to take their pups to the vet should any symptoms appear, the shelter noted.