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MDARD Encourages Owners to Protect their Dogs and Puppies through Vaccinations

The department is working with partners to learn more about reports of a parvo-like virus in northern Michigan dogs and facilitate additional testing

LANSING, MI — The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) is working in partnership with local animal control agencies, the Michigan Association of Animal Control Officers, local veterinarians, the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL), and U.S. Department of Agriculture to learn more about reports of a canine parvovirus-like illness affecting several dogs in the northern Lower Peninsula. To best keep Michigan’s dogs safe and healthy, MDARD strongly encourages owners to work with their veterinarian to ensure their dog is up to date on routine vaccinations.

“Investigating the details of unusual or reportable animal disease detections is a key part of MDARD’s mission,” said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “When we learn about these situations, we take action and respond. Understanding all of the circumstances surrounding a case is vital because this information will help us better protect both animal and human health.”

Recently, MDARD received a report from a veterinarian in northern Michigan who saw a dog that was vomiting and had diarrhea, which are common symptoms of canine parvovirus. Despite having these symptoms, the animal tested negative for the virus at the veterinary clinic. The department also received concerns from animal control agencies in northern Michigan regarding dogs with the same symptoms, the causes of which had not been determined.

MDARD is working with local animal control shelters, area veterinarians, the MSU VDL, and other partners to learn more about these reports and facilitate additional testing to try and determine a cause.

 “Our team at the MSU VDL has the expertise to lead this diagnostic investigation, including the detection and identification of potential infectious or toxic causes,” explained MSU VDL director Kim Dodd, DVM, PhD. “Our work starts with looking for known causes of disease, and if none is found, we’ll explore novel explanations such as new virus variants. Our team is working hard to find clear answers, and we will provide an update when we know more.”

For context, canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus of dogs, commonly seen in Michigan. The virus can affect any dog, but a highly effective vaccine is available to protect dogs against the disease. The disease is NOT contagious to people or other animals and is not a reportable disease to the state veterinarian’s office.

As more information is learned, MDARD is encouraging animal shelter and kennel staff to follow their strictest intake and vaccination protocols when bringing in new dogs/puppies and continue to follow required isolation protocols and recommended cleaning/disinfection procedures for surfaces and equipment.

For dog owners, especially those living in or traveling with pets to the northern Lower Peninsula, MDARD strongly recommends keeping up with routine vaccinations by ensuring dogs/puppies are vaccinated against parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis. Having dogs/puppies fully vaccinated before interacting with other animals will help to keep them healthy and safe.

If dogs or puppies are exhibiting signs of illness, it is best to keep them at home and away from other dogs and contact your veterinarian.

Also, veterinarians are advised to contact MDARD if unusual or reportable conditions in animals are seen.

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