Canine parvovirus is on the rise in St. Clair County and state officials are warning pet owners about an infectious respiratory illness appearing nationally.
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Eleven cases of the highly contagious dog virus were found in the last two weeks in Port Huron, Port Huron Township and the city of St. Clair, Melissa Miller, director of St. Clair County Animal Control, said in a statement.
She said the infected were puppies, senior dogs, or adult dogs with compromised immune systems.
“Parvo is every new puppy and dog owner’s worst nightmare,” Miller said. “Part of what makes the virus so dangerous is the ease with which it is spread through the canine population.”
The virus attacks dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. It can cause death in some cases.
Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, lack of appetite, fever, vomiting, dehydration and lethargy.
“Any and all of these symptoms merit a call to your veterinarian,” Miller said. “Even if Parvo is not the cause, the symptoms could be the result of another illness that requires veterinary attention.”
It also was determined to be the cause of a mystery canine illness that spread throughout northern Michigan this past summer. It also prompted an animal shelter in Wayne County to temporarily shut down.
Meanwhile, state officials on Wednesday warned Michigan dog owners to be on guard against an infectious respiratory illness affecting canines across the country.
The illness is under investigation in several states, including Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire.
Officials are encouraging owners to keep an eye on their pet’s health and work with their veterinarian if they see any signs of illness.
“While the exact cause of this illness remains unknown, taking some basic steps to prevent a dog’s exposure to harmful germs can go a long way to protecting their overall health,” Nora Wineland, Michigan’s state veterinarian, said in a statement. “If owners notice respiratory symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge, in their dogs, it is important to reach out to their veterinarian early on … so diagnostic testing can be completed and an appropriate course of treatment can begin.”
Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is also urging staff members at animal shelters and kennels to follow their intake and vaccination protocols when bringing in new dogs.
They also advise staff to follow isolation protocols and recommended disinfection procedures for surfaces and equipment.