New virus tied to deaths, sicknesses of Ohio dogs

By Kathy Antoniotti

Akron Beacon Journal


Symptoms associated with a new virus are similar to those exhibited in dogs that died in Cincinnati and others sickened in the Akron-Canton area over the past several weeks.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it has received calls from veterinarians and anxious dog owners throughout the state who are concerned their animals might have contracted the same illness, which can kill in as little as 48 hours from the onset of symptoms, said Erica Pitchford Hawkins, communications director for the department.

“We have had numerous calls from all across the state. We haven’t been tracking them on a map, but they have been from more areas than the two,” she said, referring to Cincinnati and Akron-Canton.

The Veterinarian Information Network, a private membership website for veterinarians, announced Thursday that the state hopes to issue a national news release about the ailment Monday.

Pathologists are looking at a virus diagnosed in several dogs that died in California in the spring that showed symptoms similar to the animals from Cincinnati, Hawkins said Thursday.

“The theory they are working on is the ‘circovirus’ that they are trying to test for. We haven’t gotten anything positive back yet,” she said.

“Until we get that, we still don’t know for sure,” she said, and cautioned pet owners to wait until test results are final.

Circovirus is a novel virus from “a family of viruses that has not been known to cause disease in dogs prior to this year,” said Melanie Butera, a Canal Fulton veterinarian and owner of Elm Ridge Animal Hospital.

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