Dozens of Dogs Drop Dead from Mystery Illness, Officials Scramble for Answers


A mystery illness is wreaking havoc on dogs in some northern Michigan communities.

More than 30 dogs have been killed as a result of the disease this summer in one Michigan county alone, according to WZZM-TV.

Veterinarians are comparing the disease to parvovirus, an infectious illness that infects canines.

But they haven’t identified the virus yet, leaving open many possibilities.

“What happens is they present to a vet with parvo-like symptoms — the bloody diarrhea, the lethargy, vomiting,” Ostego County Animal Control and Shelter Director Melissa Fitzgerald said.

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“We don’t know what it is. So that’s the scary part,” she added.

The disease quickly kills dogs, according to Fitzgerald.

“Upon testing at the vet, it comes back as negative parvo. And so the vet treats, how they feel is the best treatment. And within three to five days, usually the dog has passed.”

In spite of similarities to parvo, the dogs at first tested negative for the disease.

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However, according to a release on Monday from the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, further tests showed a positive result for the canine parvovirus.

Parvo predominantly affects younger dogs under the age of two, but cases involving older dogs have been observed, according to WXMI-TV.

Vets are recommending treating dogs with a standard regimen of vaccines, even though they’re not yet sure if the treatments will provide protection from the unidentified disease.

A vaccine for parvovirus is one of the five core shots recommended for all dogs, according to the ASPCA.

“What I hope is that this is a strain of something that we’re familiar with, so we have the ability to have some protection with the vaccines that we already have,” Kent County Animal Shelter Division Director Angela Hollinshead said, according to WZZM.

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Parvo spreads through contact with feces, and experts are recommending cleaning up dog waste and preventing the pets from excessive sniffing, according to WXMI.

Canine parvovirus can infect some other mammals, but it can’t transit from animals to humans, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is investigating the disease.

“Right now, we are still very in the early stages of this investigation,” Dr. Jennifer Calogero said, according to WZZM.

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