A Michigan veterinarian is seeking state help for an apparent virus that's killing dogs at her clinic and might be the same virus that's killing Ohio dogs. Because she has treated dogs whose owners had flulike symptoms, she thinks the virus might be passing from humans to dogs and from dogs to humans.
A Michigan veterinarian is seeking state help for an apparent virus that's killing dogs at her clinic and might be the same virus that's killing Ohio dogs.
Because she has treated dogs whose owners had flulike symptoms, she thinks the virus might be passing from humans to dogs and from dogs to humans.
Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Ann Arbor, where Dr. Lindsay Ruland works, has seen many dogs with the symptoms attributed to canine circovirus: vomiting and bloody diarrhea, quick onset of lethargy, abdominal pain and severe inflammation of the intestinal tract.
"This is like nothing we've ever seen before, and I don't know if it's multiple viruses in combination or just the circovirus," Ruland said yesterday.
Nancy Frank, Michigan's assistant state veterinarian, said yesterday that her office is investigating. No circovirus cases have been confirmed in dogs tested in Michigan, she said.
Other veterinarians have treated dogs with similar symptoms and have been asked to contact the state office, Frank said.
She said she doesn't classify the situation as an outbreak, and she has not seen any evidence of a link between sick humans and sick dogs.
The Ohio Agriculture Department has been investigating reports of severe dog illnesses and four deaths in Akron and Cincinnati for more than a month. Samples from sick dogs have been sent to a California laboratory that is studying canine circovirus, a newly isolated virus.
Erica Hawkins, the department's communication director, said that 36 samples have been tested. Two were suspected positive for circovirus.
"At this point, we feel that was not the primary contributing factor" that made the Ohio dogs sick, Hawkins said.
"We are continuing to look for other viruses that could have caused the illnesses."
There's been no indication that owners of the sick Ohio dogs were sick themselves, Hawkins said.
Little is known about the virus, including whether it is commonly found in the feces of dogs even when they are healthy, Ruland said.
A necropsy by Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center on one of the Ohio dogs could not determine a cause of death. Melissa Weber, the center's spokeswoman, said she has not heard of other potential cases in Ohio.
Dr. Mike Oglesbee, chairman of the OSU Veterinary Biosciences Department, said the canine circovirus hasn't been studied enough to determine whether it causes illness in dogs. The sick dogs' symptoms aren't defined enough to allow investigators "to put two and two together."
"The relationship to the canine circovirus is unknown," he said. "It's a priority to dig down into this, but we're at step zero."
Michigan State University's diagnostic center is testing tissue samples from animals that Ruland has treated but no results were available yet, Frank said.
Ruland said the symptoms began to show up at her clinic in August, when the human flu season started. Owners of several of the sick dogs had flulike symptoms, she said.
She and some of her staff members developed flulike symptoms after treating the sick dogs, she said. The symptoms included abdominal pain and respiratory issues.
Stricken dogs get severely ill within hours as their blood vessels leak fluid and their blood thickens so nutrients can't get to important organs, Ruland said.
She said her clinic has seen 20 to 30 cases since August and had six dogs die in the past month. She's also seen the symptoms in a few cats, rabbits and a swan.