“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,” the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement on Wednesday.
The announcement from the state agency comes shortly after Michigan officials said that they were investigating an illness that infected numerous dogs and resulted in the death of at least 30 dogs, the Associated Press reported.
“Investigating the details of unusual or reportable animal disease detections is a key part of MDARD’s mission,” the state’s Veterinarian Nora Wineland said in a statement last week.
According to the American Kennel Club, “Parvo in puppies is caused by the canine parvovirus.”
How Do Dogs Get Parvo?
“This virus is highly contagious and spreads through direct contact with an infected dog or by indirect contact with a contaminated object,” the American Kennel Club said.
“Your puppy is exposed to the parvovirus every time he sniffs, licks, or consumes infected feces. Indirect transmission occurs when a person who has recently been exposed to an infected dog touches your puppy, or when a puppy encounters a contaminated object, like a food or water bowl, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs.”
Citing the Merck Veterinary Manuel, the American Kennel Club said that Parvo can severely damage a dog’s stomach and small intestine. While in the small intestine, the virus can destroy cells and disrupt the gut barrier.
How Do I Keep My Dog From Getting Parvo?
The American Kennel Club states that puppies are usually vaccinated against Parvo within in three stages, starting at six weeks of age and ending at around 12 weeks of age.
If not vaccinated, puppies “ages six weeks to six months are the most susceptible to Parvo.”
Dr. Jerry Klein, a chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club told Newsweek that in addition to vaccines, “It is imperative to isolate infected dogs to minimize the spread of infection.”
“Proper cleaning and disinfection of contaminated kennels and other areas where infected dogs have been housed is essential to control the spread of parvovirus. People can also inadvertently spread the virus via contaminated clothing and shoes. The virus is not easily killed, so veterinarians should be consulted for specific guidance on cleaning and disinfecting agents,” Dr. Klein said.
“To protect their adult dogs, pet owners should be sure that their dog’s parvovirus vaccination is up-to-date…Until a puppy has received its complete series of vaccinations, pet owners should use caution when bringing their pet to places where young puppies congregate (e.g. pet shops, parks, puppy classes, obedience classes, doggy daycare, kennels, and grooming establishments).”
What Are The Symptoms of Parvo?
Symptoms of Parvo include fever, lethargy, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, depression and dehydration, the American Kennel Club said.
“Parvo is a potentially fatal disease. The survival rate of dogs treated by a veterinarian is 68 to 92 percent, and most puppies that survive the first three-to-four days make a complete recovery. Recovery times vary depending on the severity of the case, but it usually takes approximately one week for puppies to recover from parvo,” the American Kennel Club said.
Klein also told Newsweek that “As in any health concern, if a dog is showing any signs of illness, a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible. Secondly, dogs experiencing vomiting or diarrhea or other dogs which have been exposed to ill dogs should not be taken to kennels, show grounds, dog parks, or other areas where they will come into contact with other dogs.”
In a statement sent to Newsweek, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said, “It’s important for dog owners to work with their veterinarians as they know their animals best when they begin showing signs of an illness and ensure the needed follow-up diagnostic tests are done. Sometimes initial rapid testing can come negative then when that same sample in run with a more sensitive test it comes back positive.”
The spokesperson continued, “Vaccinating your dogs and stay up to date on those routine vaccinations, practicing good hygiene and picking up after your dog when they are out is paramount to helping to keep your dog healthy.”
Update 8/25/22, 4:46 p.m. ET: This story was updated further information from the American Kennel Club and the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.