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Outbreak of Parvovirus in Michigan

What Happened In Michigan?

As most of us have most likely heard through various media outlets, there has been an outbreak of a fatal virus in dogs who have been residing in Michigan.  It has been reported that dozens of dogs, most less than 2 years of age, have presented with vomiting, diarrhea, and severe dehydration. These symptoms are the hallmark of an unfortunately common illness in dogs called canine parvovirus (CPV) which is all too often fatal. What makes the situation in Michigan particularly concerning is that all of the dogs that died were tested for CPV in the clinics and shelters using rapid tests and all of the test results were negative.

What We Know Now

Due to nature of the illness it didn’t take long for The Michigan State Veterinarian, Dr. Nora Wineland to get involved in looking for the cause. On August 23rd she released an update stating, “We are still in the early stages of this investigation, but some of the first samples submitted to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL) were positive for canine parvovirus.” The MSU VDL was able to use more sensitive testing than that available in the shelters and clinics which resulted in the positive tests.

Further investigation into the histories of the dogs involved revealed that some of them had not received CPV vaccinations yet while others had. However, none of the dogs who died were fully vaccinated against CPV according to manufacturer recommendations. Between the vaccine status of the dogs, the manor of death, and the positive test results, there is little doubt that the dogs died of CPV.

What We Don’t Know

One of the major questions we’re left with is why the tests in the clinics were all negative for parvovirus. MSU VDL will continue to investigate the samples. The director of the lab Dr. Kim Dodd, DVM said “We continue to further characterize the virus in hopes of better understanding why those animals were testing negative on screening tests.” Why those tests were negative may be important and that’s the information we are waiting for.

What Does This Mean For Your Dog?

The current recommendations for your pets have not changed:

  • Make sure your dog is vaccinated against parvovirus. We are not currently recommending vaccine titers as they may not be offering effective immunity against this disease.
  • If your puppy is having vomiting and diarrhea please treat this has an emergency and contact us or an emergency clinic as soon as you can. If your fully vaccinated dog is having these symptoms please call us or an emergency clinic to triage the need for emergency care.
  • Keep your dog away from dogs that are sick or have had potential exposure.
  • Limit your dog’s contact with large groups of dogs and transient populations of dogs (particularly ones of unknown vaccination status).
  • We typically recommend vaccinating puppies for parvovirus every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age.   Dogs then receive a booster at 1 year of age, then boostered every 3 years thereafter. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss your dog’s vaccination plan with you during your dog’s exam.

How Do You Know If Your Dog’s CPV Vaccine is Up To Date?

If you already have your dog’s vaccination record, the the CPV vaccine we use is part of a combination vaccine we list as DAPP. You may also see it listed in some places as DA2PP, DHLPP. or a similar variation. If you are unsure please don’t hesitate to ask.

Your dog’s vaccination records are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week by downloading our app.

1) After you have installed and opened the app on your mobile phone click the “sign up” button on the home page of the app. Enter your email address, choose a password and click the blue sign up button.
2) You will then be sent a confirmation email. Click the link in that email. Check your SPAM folder if you do not see the confirmation in your inbox.

You can also visit the pet portal link on the bottom of your home clinic’s webpage.

Information provided by Dr. Suzy Broadhurst, SVA Associate Veterinarian and sources below.

Source: Virus killing dogs in Northern Michigan is parvo, unclear why tests are negative – mlive.com

Source: Parvo-like Illness Reported in Northern Michigan Dogs: Updates | College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU