A mystery virus is sickening and killing dogs in the northern Lower Peninsula.
The center of the outbreak seems to be in the Gaylord area, where animal shelter director Melissa FitzGerald posted a public notice about the illness earlier this month.
Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy and bloody stool. The illness looks a lot like parvovirus infection, but tests for parvo so far have come back negative. It could still be a new variation of that virus that current tests don’t detect.
While this is the first recorded instance in Michigan, similar outbreaks have been noted in Mexico City and Louisiana.
Officials with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are working with the diagnostic lab at Michigan State University to try to learn more about the outbreak.
In the meantime, experts recommend that you make sure your dogs are up to date on their vaccinations – especially if you’ll be traveling to or through the northern Lower Peninsula.
Isolate your dogs and see a veterinarian immediately if they show any symptoms. Be sure to clean up after your dog outdoors. Avoid giving your dog bathroom breaks in areas that may commonly be used by other dogs – contact with feces can spread the virus.
Officials also say there’s little chance the virus can make you sick. Canine parvovirus is unique to dogs, and cannot be spread to humans or other animal species.