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Parvo-like illness spreading in northern Michigan: Here's what you need to know

Parvo-like illness spreading in northern Michigan; Here's what you need to know
Posted at 4:06 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 22:35:41-04

MICHIGAN (WXMI) — A Parvo-like illness has been sickening and killing dozens of dogs in northern Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDRAD) and the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL) are conducting further tests.

In a release on Monday, the agencies said some of the first samples submitted for testing were positive for canine parvovirus after the additional tests were run.

Parvo is a highly contagious and often deadly disease that primarily affects dogs under the age of two.

The outbreak is believed to have started in Otsego County, but has since spread to other nearby areas.

According to the county’s animal control and shelter director, Melissa FitzGerald, at least 30 dogs have died from the illness since the end of June.

“There’s no commonality at this point other than vaccines may have been incomplete or not proper,” said FitzGerald.

She adds all of them exhibited symptoms of Parvo, but tested negative for the illness at their vets.

It’s unclear why that happened, but is part of the state’s investigation.

“That’s what we’re working on now, or they [MDRAD / MSU VDL] are working on now, is what exactly is it a strain of Parvo? Is it something else? Is it combined? There’s a lot of unanswered questions that they’re looking into at this point,” said FitzGerald.

Adrianna Potrafkey, who lives in northern Michigan, says four of her dogs woke up with bloody diarrhea and upset stomaches at the beginning of July.

Other symptoms of Parvo include tiredness and loss of appetite. It spreads through fecal matter.

All of them have since recovered. She credits their survival in part to the vaccines they received as puppies.

“We had no idea, they [the vet] had no idea what was going on,” said Potrafkey. “I didn’t work for two weeks straight. I was behind on my bills. It was hard for me. My boyfriend’s boss lended us a lot of money. We have to pay it back. It impacted me a lot. I couldn’t leave them incase something happened.”

FitzGerald says if pet owners have an upcoming trip to northern Michigan, they should make sure their dogs are up to date on their vaccinations or leave them at home if they are exhibiting symptoms.

“If you don’t know if your dog is, call your vet,” said FitzGerald. “Make sure they’re up to date on all their vaccinations, make sure they were properly vaccinated when you got them whether it was when they were puppies or when they were three.”

She added, “Keep your dogs close. Don’t let them sniff about - No common water dishes, anything like that.”