Saturday, 7 September 2013

Ohio Dog Deaths, Is it Circovirus?

For many years we have worried about Porcine Circovirus, it always seems to be the "ghost at the feast" - a sign not only of pig health problems, but also the harbinger of worse to come. 

It was the first illness in the series of three in England in 1999-2001. The pigs got Porcine Circovirus (PCV2), then Classical Swine Fever (CSF), then Foot and Mouth (FMD). The foot and mouth spread to cattle and sheep, the combination was a cruel financial disaster. The pigs are often still not well, with circovirus and what seem to be related illnesses.

Porcine Circovirus is little understood, clouded in confusion, shrouded in secrecy, awarded many arbitrary names (often for PR purposes) and dubious artificial distinctions. It has been spread about the world, and the international movement of live pigs is suspected to be the means of introduction.

The USA has Porcine Circovirus in its massive hog industry, with Ohio the biggest pork producing state.

Dogs, in the USA, have been known to get a form of circovirus, occasionally only, for a while. Suddenly, we see a cluster of sick dogs with some deaths and circovirus is suspected. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but the centre, of what seems to be a number of outbreaks, is in Ohio.

We look forward to the statement from Ohio, expected on Monday next.

The full story in the Akron Beacon Journal is here. Veterinary sites are also covering the story.

Still no definitive answers for dog-killing illness; theory points to new virus

By Kathy Antoniotti 

Beacon Journal staff writer

Chris Gatsios' five-year-old black lab Bella, from Canal Fulton. Bella is recovering from a possible virus strain that nearly killed her and has killed three dogs in Cincinnati. (Karen Schiely/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 (meaning one not seen before) 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.

Butera was the first area veterinarian to report to the state that she saw possibly as many as four canine patients with the ailment two weeks ago.

Circovirus was so recently discovered “there is not much at all information about how it is getting around,” Hawkins said.

The Beacon Journal has heard from dozens of people who suspect their pets might have contracted the illness, or recovered or died from it, before or since an article appeared Saturday...