Fort St. Clair Kennel Club

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Some Updates to the Mysterious “Ohio Virus”


This morning, the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association issued an email to all Ohio veterinarians with statements from the state veterinarian at the Ohio Department of Agriculture.  They have confirmed the presence of circovirus in one dog, but test results have not come in yet on the other seven, and it may be weeks before they are finished. Testing takes time, which is, of course, frustrating for everyone, since we all want answers.

Dr. Tony Forshey, the state veterinarian very strongly urged caution before jumping to any conclusions. He said, and I quote, “We don’t yet know the role, if any, that circovirus played in the death of that one dog. ” Nevertheless, people do jump to conclusions and it quite disappointing that some of the people indulging in speculation are out-of-state veterinarians. One of them is any anti-vaccine crusader who has been circulating the baseless rumor that dogs have contracted the virus from circovirus-contaminated vaccines.

The other is an “internet sensation” (“America’s Pet Advocate) who gained fame by sitting in a hot car with a thermometer to show that if you sit in a hot car parked in the sun in a place where palm trees grow that in twenty minutes it gets pretty hot in there. This time, he is circulating grisly necropsy photographs with big red letters heralding the arrival of a “killer virus” which he identified as circovirus. Very much jumping to conclusions, and he advised all who asked to “talk to their vet about circovirus.”

So far, the only deaths identified as caused by circovirus were in California last spring. Does that mean that these deaths are not circovirus? No, it just means we still don’t know, and it would be good for veterinarians to keep an open mind about what they’re dealing with. The fact of the matter is that many of these cases may be “normal” illnesses that vets are already familiar with:  parvovirus or coronavirus, camphylobacter, cryptosporidium, giardia etc.  Many of these have the same supportive treatment: address the symptoms while testing.

Because Dr. Forshey is certain that the means of transmission is fecal, you can best protect your dog by keeping him or her away from the fecal material of other dogs– he specifically mentioned avoiding dog parks. We will add pet areas at rest stops are also a haven for fecal-borne illnesses. Some individuals have taken to washing their dogs feet, with the thought that dogs perspire through their feet. Does it help? Who knows?  But like hand-washing, it can’t hurt!

And please, remember to pick up after your dog.

The OVMA email also mentioned that the Department of Agriculture is now compiling cases that may be this mysterious illnesses, and encouraged veterinarians to contact them if they believe they have or have had cases. Their number is (614) 728-6220.

Finally, as always, if your dog shows any of these symptoms: vomiting, bloody diarrhea and/or foaming at the mouth, get them to a vet. Don’t try to ride this one out, don’t try to treat at home. Dogs that get prompt treatment are recovering well.

8 comments on “Some Updates to the Mysterious “Ohio Virus”

  1. Toni King
    September 10, 2013

    The Dept of Ag needs to get off their cans and get this figured out! It is ridiculous that the other samples will take weeks, it didn’t take that long for the first sample. They are just afraid this is going to cause a widespread panic. Get the facts out there so people know what can be done if their dog gets sick! Unfortunately they do not consider dogs important, they are just a commodity to them. Dogs are our family members and the general public needs to speak up and let them know we want answers ASAP.


    • fortstclairkennelclub
      September 17, 2013

      Hi Toni, it actually did take weeks for the first sample, it’s just that we weren’t aware of it yet. The Department of Agriculture is actually waiting too, as the tests are being carried out at the Veterinary Laboratory at the University of California at Davis– possibly the most advanced veterinary lab in the world. If the second samples didn’t come back with the same results as the first, then they are back to square one and having to do more tests looking for the culprit. We just hope they find it– sometimes these mysteries stay mysterious for a long, long time. The good news is that we do know how it’s spread (through dog poop) and what the symptoms are (vomiting, bloody diarrhea and possibly foaming at the mouth), how to avoid it (stay out of dog parks and pet areas of rest stops– though it should be added that some of the dogs that died had not been in these situations),that the rate of contagion is low (some dogs in households with dogs that died did not become ill) and that early supportive treatment of the symptoms has had very good results and recovery rates. But yes, we are all worried and anxious for answers.


  2. J. Morris
    September 11, 2013

    Very informative and well written, will share with my Vet in Michigan.


    • fortstclairkennelclub
      September 17, 2013

      Thanks. And good idea to share with your vet– because although people refer to this as the “Ohio Virus”, the chance that it is limited to Ohio is slim to nil.


  3. Jackie Gartley Moyle
    September 15, 2013

    When it comes to pet areas at rest stops I for one can attest to dogs becoming ill after a trip and using those areas…Both of my Yorkies have gotten giardia after even a 1 day trip….I now carry both of them until I find a “clean” area for them to go in AND yes I do clean up after my boys. As soon as we get back to the car, (again I am carrying them) their faces and feet are thoroughly washed and dried all while they are on newspaper on seat. As one is washed he gets put into his carseat. As soon as both are washed and in their seat I discard that newspaper and all items used to clean them up in trash can and immediately now wash my hands good and use alcohol on my hands after. I now run into ladies room and change my blouse to be sure no gems on from carrying back to car,
    I do have disinfectant doggie wipes that I will use if unable to clean them otherwise. Now as we do stay a motels if a multiple day trip call me a nut I don’t mind at all, I go into that room and use a can of lysol disinfecting every bit of carpet and flooring, I refuse to take any chances on that giardia, nasty stuff…..once bitten (no pun intended) twice shy as they say. So far and fingers crossed here BTW, we’ve had a total of 2 bouts with that darn giardia so perhaps my “silly” methods are working, huh?


    • fortstclairkennelclub
      September 17, 2013

      Jackie, it sounds like your boys are in good hands! Remember that Giardia is often water-borne, so watch that they aren’t cavorting in mud puddles! It really seems like with this mysterious virus that if we all take care to steer clear of foreign “poop” and keep dogs feet clean and seek veterinary attention at the sign of any of the hallmark symptoms that the prognosis is good.


  4. tlrussell1
    September 17, 2013

    I lost another Chihuahua Pup Sunday…it was the smallest of the three litters…I am getting this girl autopsied too..I called the Dept of Agriculture and they requested my vet forward the findings to them.


    • fortstclairkennelclub
      September 17, 2013

      Oh no, that’s awful. Hope that we get some answers soon. Was there anything conclusive on the autopsy on the original pup that died? Sending our heartfelt sympathies.


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