By Jessica Tremayne-Farkas
For Veterinary Practice News
A regional issue became a
national concern when reports
of sick and dead dogs in Ohio
and Michigan were thought to
be related to circovirus, which
is typically found in pigs.
Four now-deceased dogs and
several other animals from Nor-wood, north of Cincinnati, and
Canal Fulton presented with
symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting, vasculitis, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss
and neurologic display.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., six dogs
died of what is believed to be
the same illness.
The three young and previously healthy Cincinnati dogs became ill after staying at the same
boarding facility, but a physical
link to the Canal Fulton animal
has yet to be detected. Melanie
Butera, DVM, owner of Elm Ridge
Animal Hospital in Canal Fulton,
was the first veterinarian to report findings to state officials.
One of Dr. Butera’s patients
died, but three others recovered with supportive care.
“While vomiting and diar-
rhea were found in all affect-
ed animals, vasculitis was a
unique symptom,” said Tony
Forshey, DVM, Ohio’s state vet-
erinarian. “One dog had serum
oozing through gum tissue. An-
other dog has skin loss along
thoracic vertebrae to lumbar
vertebrae due to lack of blood
supply to the skin, and there
can be many causes of this.”
The Ohio Department of Ag-
riculture became involved in the
media-dubbed “mystery illness”
when veterinarians stumped by
patients’ cause of death contact-
ed the agency and Dr. Forshey.
The department took calls
from veterinarians and dog owners concerned that they may
have a case to add to the list of
affected animals. The number
of dogs with the illness was unclear, but 36 samples had been
tested or were being processed
from Ohio dogs alone as of Oct. 3.
The agency took calls from
veterinarians across the state
and is looking for the common
thread among cases separated
in some circumstances by 230
miles, communications director
Erica Pitchford Hawkins said.
Preliminary tests led veteri-
narians away from focusing on
typical illnesses that show the
presenting symptoms. Virus-
es including parvo and corona
and other gastrointestinal-relat-
ed maladies were ruled out, as
were salmonella, E. coli, distem-
per, toxicology and tainted food.
“Twenty common bacteri-
al agents were tested on the
dogs and all were negative,”
Forshey says. “Circovirus was
found in only one ill dog, which
leads us to believe a co-infec-
tion may be occurring.”
The series of illnesses docu-
ments the first time circovirus/
DogCV was found in Ohio. Be-
cause circovirus isn’t an estab-
lished canine disease, research-
ers are largely operating with
the understanding of the way
the disease manifests in swine.
Additional epidemiologic infor-
mation continues to surface,
“PCI and ELISA tests were
run, along with tissue and fe-
cal samples,” Forshey said.
Electrophoresis testing is be-
ing conducted, which has its
As of Oct. 3, the specific illness causing these severe symptoms had yet to be determined.
While circovirus was an unusual
finding, it isn’t believed to be the
primary cause of illness.
Deaths of Ohio, Michigan dogs stump investigators
Ohio dogs, Page 37