State and federal authorities are investigating an unidentified illness causing symptoms similar to canine parvovirus that has killed dozens of dogs in the US state of Michigan.
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that affects the gastrointestinal tract, with unvaccinated puppies younger than four months old the most susceptible. Elderly dogs can also contract parvovirus.
The virus can be spread by dog-to-dog contact or contact with contaminated faeces or environments.
Canine parvovirus is not transmissible to humans.
“Dog owners need to ensure their pet is up to date on routine vaccinations as it’s the first step in keeping your pet healthy,” the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement.
Symptoms of canine parvovirus include lethargy, abdominal pain or bloating, fever, vomiting and severe diarrhoea, the American Veterinary Medical Association said.
Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours after the beginning of the clinical signs, the association said.
The “parvo-like” illness in Michigan has killed more than 20 dogs in Otsego County, the Otsego County Animal Shelter said.
The animal shelter said on Friday that dogs who experienced symptoms similar to parvovirus tested negative when taken to the veterinary surgeon.
Initial stages of the investigation have shown that the first samples submitted to the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory came back positive for parvovirus.
“However, there are more results pending and more to be learnt,” veterinary surgeon Nora Wineland said.
No specific drug is available to kill parvovirus in infected dogs, the AVMCA said. However, treatment to help support the dog's immune system should begin immediately. This includes intensive efforts to replace electrolyte, protein and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhoea, and preventing further infections
Survival rates can reach 90 per cent with proper treatment, the agency said.