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U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Veronica Pierce

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Live Science

 

Veterinarians, health officials and dog owners are alarmed by the mysterious recent deaths of four dogs in Ohio. Some experts suspect the dogs may have died a few days after exposure to a virus that’s normally found in pigs.

Three dogs in the Cincinnati area and a fourth dog near Akron died in August after exhibiting symptoms that included vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

“We feel obligated to make sure pet owners are aware this is happening,” Erica Hawkins, communications director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, told the Dispatch. “Supportive therapies can be helpful if started early enough.” [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]

The three dogs from Cincinnati died last month after staying in the same kennel. The Akron dog that died was one of several in the Akron-Canton area that showed the same symptoms. A stool sample from the Akron dog tested positive for canine circovirus, a recently isolated virus.

A new virus emerges

Circoviruses are spherical viruses (grouped within the family Circoviridae) that are commonly found in birds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publication Emerging Infectious Diseases. Until recently, the only mammals known to carry circoviruses were pigs.

But in 2012, a 1-year-old dog in California was brought to the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital after being kenneled for three weeks. The dog had bloody diarrhea and was vomiting; because of the poor prognosis, the dog was euthanized and its tissue was sampled to determine the cause of death.

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New virus afflicting dogs can be deadly

No cases have been reported in the area

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
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Symptoms associated with a new virus are similar to those exhibited in dogs that died in Cincinnati and others that were sickened in the Akron-Canton area over the last several weeks.

The illness is believed to be canine circovirus. Affected dogs have exhibited similar symptoms including vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy.

Several Toledo-area veterinarians said they had not seen any cases resembling the disease but are keeping an eye out for it.

“We haven’t seen this in our practice and I hope we never will,” said Dr. Jennifer Tate, a veterinarian at SylvaniaVET.

Officials at the Toledo Area Humane Society and Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office also said they have not seen any cases.

“We have seen the information and have reached out [online] to see what other shelters are experiencing,” said Dr. Deb Johnson, a veterinarian and director of operations at the humane society. “We have not seen any cases of this here.”

One area vet said the virus might be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms — bloody diarrhea and vomiting, extreme lethargy, neurological problems, and a lack of appetite — are common to many illnesses.

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