Michigan State University veterinarians searching for cause of parvovirus outbreak
EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Veterinarians at Michigan State University are working to find out what caused an outbreak of the parvovirus in Northern Michigan.
The new strain of parvovirus is causing dozens of dogs to get sick. It’s not clear how many dogs have died from this new strain, because veterinarians are not required to report parvo cases to the state.
What we do know is at least 30 dogs have died in the last two months in Otsego County.
Vets are still trying to find out why an illness with a highly successful vaccine is spreading so fast. Until (and likely after) the cause of the spread is found, they say vaccines are still the best way to protect your dog.
Lydia Sattler, from the Jackson County Animal Shelter, said she’s seen parvovirus before.
“I think first of all people need to know not to panic, that parvo’s been around for a very long time,” Sattler said.
While the new strain is alarming, Sattler’s not panicking. Neither are the experts, like Kim Dodd from the MSU Veterinary Laboratory.
Dodd said, “Clinically, diagnostically, we haven’t seen anything unique about this particular strain of parvo.”
The only thing different about this strain is that, when the dogs were initially showing parvovirus-like symptoms, they were testing negative. But labs at Michigan State University confirmed they did have the disease.
Dodd said, “We’re doing a deep dive into this from a diagnostic perspective to try to understand if there’s something about this strain of the virus that could explain why we’re seeing a difference in testing.”
Veterinarians said pet owners don’t need to change their dog’s routine but they should pay attention to signs of parvo like vomiting, bloody stool, fever, turning their noses to food and water. If dogs show any of these signs, they should get tested. Veterinarians also said it wouldn’t be a bad idea to check with your own vet to make sure your dog is up to date.
Sattler said, “In any case, you want to make sure that your dog has the full series of vaccinations and that they’re fully protected from any kind of disease before you let them interact with any kind of other animals.”
If dogs are unvaccinated, they should either get vaccinated or stay away from other dogs. But pet owners with vaccinated dogs don’t have much to worry about.
Dodd said, “My full vaccinated dogs are both at daycare today which will make for a much nicer weekend for all of us.”
The Jackson County Animal Shelter will be giving out free parvovirus vaccinations while supplies last.
If you want to make sure your vaccinations are up to date, they also give out other vaccinations on Thursdays. No appointment is needed.
According to veterinary experts, parvovirus is not transmittable to people or other animals.
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