Canines Contract Mystery Virus in Ohio

A mystery virus appears to have recently broken out in the state of Ohio, which is causing severe illness to some canines, with a few dogs having died as a result.  It has been reported that the dogs may have contracted the virus while they boarded temporarily at dog kennels.  An unnamed doggie day care kennel and local dog park have both been closed until further notice.

There have been further reports that the virus in question could be the Canine Circovirus, which is a rare bug that was not formerly known about.  Symptoms of the illness include lethargy, vomiting, blood vessel hemorrhaging, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and in some cases, death.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is currently working closely with experts in animal health to define the source of what has now become a succession of severe dog illnesses within the state over the summer.  An official from the Department of Health has negated the reports that the illnesses and deaths could be caused by Canine Circovirus, having stated that it was first necessary to wait on laboratory test results, before confirming the virus as the canine killer.

On September 6, however, the Ohio Department of Agriculture had made an announcement that a dog suffering from the same symptoms had tested positive for Canine Circovirus, but that dog owners must not immediately jump to the conclusion that the reports are accurate.

Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health has stated that there is not yet enough information on what has caused the deaths of the dogs and that not all dogs with the same symptoms have died.  She went on that vomiting and diarrhea are also symptoms that are synonymous with other canine bugs and although there is no known contributor to the illness and deaths in these particular cases, she is more concerned with eradicating any ideas of blaming the illnesses on the virus and creating a panic.

However, the warning not to jump to conclusions is of little comfort to dog owners, as according to the state, 4 dogs displaying the same symptoms have died and 3 of them had stayed at the same dog kennel in Cincinnati during the month of August.  Reports have also stated that another dog from the Akron-Canton area that was carrying the same symptoms has also died.  Concern is now growing among dog owners, who are becoming more cautious of leaving their dogs at kennels.  It is also understood that the window in which a sick dog could infect a healthy dog is limited, rendering dog kennels at a time of a break out risky surroundings to be in.

Viral samples have been sent to laboratories in the state of California, but reports say that the health authorities are still no closer to establishing the precise source of the canine deaths than they had been when the state announcement was initially made.  In fact, Hawkins has already stated that the investigations are not going to be a quick process.

The Centers for Disease Control have reported that the Canine Circovirus is also known to be a close relation to the virus that can kill pigs, although it is not said to be definite on whether it only targets any one particular breed, as so little is currently known about it.

Melanie Butera, the veterinarian from the Akron area, has reported some of her cases to the Agriculture Department, as they were similar to the Cincinnati cases.  Although a dog in that area has died, she has managed to successfully treat a couple of other dogs with similar symptoms.  The Agriculture Department has requested that all veterinarians immediately report back on any cases of canines suffering with symptoms of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy and weight loss.

Similarly, any dog owners have been strongly recommended by officials of the department to report any similar symptoms immediately to their veterinarians, while monitoring any changes in their own dogs very closely, as well as keeping dogs displaying any of the symptoms away from other dogs, in order to prevent a spread of the disease.

As a preventative measure, the Canine Carnival that was due to take place on Sunday in the city of Miamisburg near Dayton, has now been canceled.  The event was going to focus on a series of dog contests and provide an area for dogs to socialize and play.

Dr Laurie Millward, a chief veterinarian for the Capital Area, suggested that it might be a bit too early to create too many drastic changes of habit, such as abandoning the opportunity for dogs to socialize, as too little is yet known by scientists to give specific recommendations.

On the other hand, Millward did recommend that anyone walking his or her dog(s) did see another canine that looked sick, to keep walking away.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is continuing its investigation into how and why some of the state’s canines are contracting this mysterious virus, and has asked that anyone who they believe is treating any dogs with comparable symptoms to call the Division of Animal Health on 614-728-6220.


Written by: Brucella Newman


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