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Update from MDARD on Mystery Virus Killing Dogs

‘Keep your dogs home, don’t take them to dog parks, don’t walk them’


HARRISON – Prior to addressing the Clare County Board of Commissioners during its Aug. 17 meeting, Clare County Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks shared with the Cleaver some sad and disturbing information. An unidentified virus, symptomatically similar to canine parvovirus, has been affecting dogs in the state. She said it was found in Otsego County first, where there were 20 cases.

“It mimics Parvo, but they are all testing negative,” Hicks said. “All of the dogs have died, vaccinated and unvaccinated. We just had eight dogs in our county, that we know of. We took a dog down yesterday for necropsy that just died of it, but don’t have the results back.”

Hicks said the virus is everywhere, and that it is believed to have come out of Louisiana.

She said the virus kills the infected dog within three days of the appearance of symptoms, and was quick to add that her dogs are not leaving the house.

“We’re not going to dog parks, we’re not going camping with them,” Hicks said. “Because there’s no cure There’s no vaccine because they haven’t identified it yet.”

She said that, due to the negative test results it is either a brand new strain of the Parvo virus that the test doesn’t pick up, or it’s something totally different.

When Hicks addressed the board after it approved a request for the shelter to use its own funds to erect a new storage/large animal housing building, and approved a spay/neuter grant, she brought the same shocking news to the commissioners.

“There is a new virus in Michigan that’s affecting dogs,” she told the commissioners. “We thought we were fine; we had not had any deaths. As of today, from last Thursday [Aug. 11] until now, we’ve had over 30 dogs die of a virus, a disease – not at the shelter – in the county. It mimics Parvo, so it’s vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and they all died within three days: vaccinated dogs and unvaccinated dogs.”

When asked if it was known how the disease spreads, Hicks said it is unknown. “They don’t know anything. The state is in a panic right now.”

She explained that cases started in Otsego, and that eight dogs along the street across from her own house had all died in three days. Hicks also said Animal Control had taken a carcass the previous day and had tested it in the field for Parvo; it was negative but had all the symptoms.

“We drove it to MSU yesterday,” she said. “So, we should get results, but just a warning to the public: Keep your dogs home, don’t take them to dog parks, don’t walk them.

Hicks reiterated that, at this point, there is no vaccine, and no cure. She also spoke of a late evening call the day prior advising that a breeder in the southern part of the county had lost 21 puppies and dogs. Hicks said that report had not yet been confirmed, and repeated the symptoms as: vomiting, diarrhea and bloody diarrhea.


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