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New Deadly Virus Killing Dogs Circo-Virus

November 13, 2013

Circo-Virus spreading in the U.S.

A new virus is hitting dogs throughout the country, and if not treated, it can kill an infected animal in just days. There’s no vaccine, it’s highly infectious, and scientists still can’t say with certainty how it’s transmitted.

What is certain is this disease is deadly, especially in kennel settings. Even though cases have been limited to just three states so far – California, Michigan, and Ohio – it’s just a matter of time until it makes its way here.

Dr. Olivia Pan is keeping up with all of the latest information for when it does, because early study results are frightening.

“They’re suspecting the dogs can bleed into their cavities, their chest into their abdomen, and those are some of the more serious ones that would bleed to their deaths,” said Dr. Pan.

It’s called circo-virus. Vets have been aware of it for years but mainly in pig populations – it can decimate an entire hog farm in just a week. Certain pet birds also seem susceptible, especially parrots, parakeets and cockatoos. What’s new is the virus has never made the jump to dogs – until now.

At The Pet Spot, a kennel in a suburb of Cincinnati, three dogs died and a fourth became ill in just three days, all suffering from symptoms consistent with circo-virus. For the owner, it’s been hard both personally & professionally.

“We consider this the loss of three of our family members,” said Jeff Voelpel. “We’ll always continue to ensure that we do things the right way, and make sure we’ve taken every step to ensure a clean, safe environment.”

One of the main problems with circo-virus is there’s no easy way to diagnosis it. Since it can kill so quickly, sending blood samples off to a lab for testing just isn’t practical.

“There’s no way of us knowing it’s the circo-virus or not until you do all of these tests, and by then – you don’t get the results back for weeks,” said Dr. Pan.

Doctors do know that dogs who are frequently boarded or spend time in “play situations” with large groups of other dogs are at greatest risk. The bad news is, there’s no vaccine to prevent it – no known cure – and to make matters worse, it’s still not clear how the virus is spread.

That fact is especially frightening for kennel or doggie daycare operators responsible for a large number of dogs.

“Definitely, we do have a fear that all of these dogs are going to get sick at the same time,” said Dr. Pan.

Since the disease was only first detected in dogs in 2012, the symptoms aren’t set in stone.

Here’s what we know: all of the infected dogs had severe inflammation in their intestinal tract, and exhibited varying degrees of lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your dog exhibits those symptoms, visit the vet immediately.

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