The death of four Ohio dogs could be linked to a recently discovered virus, but one official from the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine said there is no need for pet owners to worry.
In August, it was reported that four dogs, three in Cincinnati that had stayed at the same kennel and one in Akron, out of eight with similar symptoms, had died.
“We have no idea if the illnesses are related and we have no idea what caused it,” said Melissa Weber, director of communications for OSU Veterinary Medicine. “(In) one of the dogs, the canine circovirus was found.”
Little is known where the circovirus — the new virus — came from and how it spreads.
The symptoms of the virus are vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy, which Weber said are common symptoms dogs have with illness, but what stood out was hemorrhaging and inflamed blood vessels in some of the sick dogs. Of those dogs who did survive, the veterinarians used supportive therapy, which is an application of fluids given to the dog.
Weber has received emails from people saying their dogs had the same symptoms and wondering if it was the same virus. However, she said there currently isn’t a cause for concern.
“The most important thing is that no one needs to panic. At this point, there is no known cause and no method of transmission,” Weber said. “There have not been any cases (of the illness) since.”
Some Ohio State students who own dogs said they had never heard of the illness and aren’t concerned.
“If it affected where I lived more, then I would take precautions, but I mean, a dog could literally get sick in your backyard,” said Hanna Sherwood, a fifth-year in psychology. “I’m more worried about my dog getting into a bad bag of garbage, and good dog owners are going to take the right steps to avoid (illness). Maybe that’s why only four have died.”
Brian Haugh, a fifth-year in criminology who also owns a dog, said he thinks what happened to the dogs is sad, but sees no reason to worry.
“If they don’t know what is causing it (the illness), how it is actually being spread, then it’s hard to find a precaution to shield the dog away from it,” Haugh said.
Others, though, are worried about the virus.
“That’s really worrying that (the dogs) are dying within a short amount of time and that there were that many cases that recently,” said Jane Vinesky, a third-year in biology who owns a 15-week-old labrador named Sammy. “That is really scary.”
Vinesky added she thinks others should be more concerned as well.
“If the cases are all consistently the same, like same symptoms and timeline and all that, people should definitely take notice because something happening like that in a pattern is probably not a fluke,” she said.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture is conducting an investigation on the case. In a press release, the department encouraged pet owners to contact a vet immediately if any symptoms are present in their dogs. State veterinarian Tony Forshey also asked local veterinarians to report potential related cases to the department.
There have been no cases of the illness present in Columbus or at the OSU Veterinary Medical Center, Weber said.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: Sept. 19, 2013
An earlier version of this story stated that Melissa Weber was a veterinarian, when in fact she is the director of communications for Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine.