Update from the State Veterinarian on Canine Parvovirus Cases in Northern Michigan

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For immediate release: August 24, 2022   
MDARD Media Contacts: Chelsea Lewis-Parisio, 517-331-1151 or Jennifer Holton, 517-284-5724 
MSU VDL Media Contact: Courtney Chapin, 517-432-5832 

Update from the State Veterinarian on Canine Parvovirus Cases in Northern Michigan

LANSING, MI — To date, the results from the additional testing facilitated by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and completed by the Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (MSU VDL) have revealed the illness impacting dogs in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula to be canine parvovirus. The affected dogs did not have a history of complete vaccination.

“Canine parvovirus is a severe and highly contagious disease in dogs and veterinary professionals have extensive experience with this virus," said State Veterinarian Nora Wineland, DVM. “We have a highly effective vaccine available to help protect dogs from the virus. Dogs that are not fully vaccinated against this virus are the most at risk. Dog owners across Michigan must work closely with their veterinarians to ensure their dogs are appropriately vaccinated and given timely boosters to keep their pets safe and healthy. Protecting Michigan’s dogs is a team effort.” 

“This situation is complex because although the dogs displayed clinical signs suggestive of parvovirus, they consistently test negative by point-of-care tests performed in clinics and shelters,” said MSU VDL director Kim Dodd, DVM. “Screening tests for parvo are done to help guide immediate isolation, disinfection, and treatment protocols. While those tests are valuable in the clinical setting, they are not as sensitive as the diagnostic tests we can perform here in the laboratory. We continue to further characterize the virus in hopes of better understanding why those animals were testing negative on screening tests.”

Veterinarians are encouraged to pursue additional diagnostics at the MSU VDL when screening tests for canine parvovirus are negative but clinical presentation is consistent with parvovirus infection. Please call MSU VDL (517-353-1683) with any questions about sample collection, submission, or diagnostic options and contact MDARD (800-292-3939) if unusual or reportable illnesses are seen.

The discovery of these cases should not cause dog owners to drastically change how they care for their pets or where they plan to travel. If dogs are fully vaccinated against canine parvovirus, they are protected against severe illness, but it is important to always consult with your veterinarian.

As canine parvovirus is a common illness in dogs, veterinary clinic staff know how to keep dogs safe when seeing them for vaccinations and other forms of preventative care.

MDARD is encouraging all dog owners to take a few simple steps to protect their animals: 

  • Keep up with routine vaccinations by ensuring dogs/puppies are vaccinated against canine parvovirus, rabies, canine distemper, adenovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis by a veterinarian.
  • Have dogs/puppies fully vaccinated before interacting with other animals to keep them healthy and safe.
  • Keep dogs/puppies at home and away from other dogs if they are exhibiting any signs of illness and contact your veterinarian.
  • Be sure to clean up after your pet when you’re walking them in public.

Canine parvovirus is NOT contagious to people or other species of domestic animals. The disease is common in Michigan and is not required to be reported to the state veterinarian’s office.