No Official Word on “Michigan Virus”


An emergency medical clinic in Ann Arbor, Michigan spoke with reporters about incidents of an unknown virus they’ve seen in their clinic. Unfortunately, they linked it to to the “circovirus in Ohio,” even though it has different symptoms, no tissue samples have been taken from the Michigan dogs, the Michigan Veterinary Association has not made an official statement and there is no word from that state’s Department of Agriculture or state veterinarian. Oh, and it hasn’t been confirmed that circovirus even played a role in the death of dogs here in Ohio.

The symptoms in Michigan include extreme lethargy, vomiting and bloody diarrhea and a very short period of illness followed by death, 12-24 hours. In some instances the affected dogs’ owners had also been ill.  Even more alarming, the clinic also said that some dogs were asymptomatic, but necropsy turned up similar findings.

The thing is, this is just coming out of one vet clinic– and the statements have been made by a very young veterinarian, Dr. Lindsay Ruland (a 2009 graduate) and these remarks were picked up by the media– with everyone jumping to conclusions. We don’t know what these people saw in their clinic. They don’t know what they saw in their clinic, other than it involved an uptick in cases involving a parvo-like virus.

The advice remains the same. If your dog is ill, take the dog to the vet. There are no cures yet for affected dogs, but those that get early intervention make good recoveries.

In the meantime, just stay calm and wait ’till we know something more about this from a more reliable source.

Update from OVMA on “Ohio Virus”



An update from the Ohio Veterinary Medical Association on the “Ohio Virus.” (There’s not much here, folks, sorry.)

“Beyond the initial reports involving eight dogs (four in the Cincinnati area and four in Canal Fulton), there have not been any confirmed reports to the Ohio Department of Agriculture of additional dogs becoming ill or dying from the canine illness of unknown origin. A few additional suspected cases have been submitted for testing; however, there have been no confirmed additional instances of the virus at this point.

While there has been some suspicion that the unknown illness is caused by a canine circovirus, that has not been confirmed. Information to date points to the possibility of at least some other factor or factors contributing to the illness. [emphasis added]

At present, how the disease initiated remains unknown. (note from FSCKC: this statement is directly contradicted by the State Veterinarian, Tony Forshey. I think we will go with his statement, rather than some clerk at the OVMA.)

There is no vaccine or other means of prevention currently known, other than following good hygiene and keeping your dog away from direct contact with the excretions of other dogs.

Symptoms of the disease include severe vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and lethargy or weakness. There are a variety of illnesses that can produce some or all of these symptoms, so their presence in your dog does not necessarily mean it has acquired this unknown illness.

All evidence suggests that owners who seek treatment from a veterinarian quickly from the onset of the symptoms significantly enhance survival and recovery. Without treatment, the time from initial signs of illness to death is believed to be only three to four days.”

So, we’re still spreading the same message:  if your dog comes down with these symptoms, see your veterinarian. Even if it is not the “Ohio Virus”, your dog is very ill and needs care.  Stay out of dog parks, and away from any other areas that contain pet waste.  

Still Waiting for News



The problem with television mysteries is that everything gets solved in an hour, and even leaves time for commercials. Even though we know real life doesn’t work that way, we still harbor expectations. But laboratory tests take time, some cultures grow very slowly, “weird” results might precipitate a whole new round of re-tests. We know they’re not twiddling their thumbs at the Department of Agriculture (nor at U.C. Davis) but there is still no news from the Department of Agriculture on findings regarding the “Ohio Virus.”

I called today and was told that they are still awaiting results. The minute we hear something, we will post it, I promise. In the meantime, please be alert for your dog suffering from a set of symptoms that may include vomiting, bloody diarrhea and possibly foaming at the mouth. If you see this, get to a veterinarian right away. (Remember that they believe the means of transmission is fecal.) If your veterinarian needs more information or thinks your case may be related, the telephone number for the State Veterinarian, Tony Forshey, at the Ohio Department of Agriculture is (614) 728-6220.

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.