In 2013, there has been nationwide attention on the novel canine virus called Circovirus. The virus is thought to play a role in the illness and deaths reported in Ohio, Michigan and California earlier this year. The disease causes diarrhea and vomiting, both which may become bloody. Symptoms can rapidly worsen and result in shock, bleeding disorders and in some cases death.
Now there is news of a dog staying at a boarding facility in Las Vegas that became sick and subsequently died. The dog tested positive for Circovirus. Although this is a sad loss, it was fortunate that veterinarians were alert enough to send samples in for testing, as this is still a very rare disease.
Current research indicates that Circovirus may act as either a primary or perhaps a co-infection with other pathogens to cause illness. But the virus has been isolated from the stool of completely healthy dogs, so just because a dog tests positive for the virus, it doesn’t mean it necessarily will get sick.
Because the virus is so new, much is not known of about Circovirus virus and how it may, or may not lead to disease in dogs. But the good news is that researchers are actively studying the virus, and practicing veterinarians are watchful for suspected cases.
What is Circovirus?
Circovirus is a virus affecting dogs that was first identified as recently as June 2012. Although circoviruses are also known to affect pigs and birds, these are distinctly different than the canine Circovirus. As far as we know now, this virus does not affect cats.
What are symptoms of Circovirus?
Vomiting, diarrhea- which may be bloody
Rapidly worsening condition
Shock, fluid accumulation and bleeding problems
How is Circovirus spread?
The specific behavior of the virus is still being studied. But many other gastrointestinal agents are concentrated in the vomit and feces from infected dogs. Direct exposure to feces or vomit can transmit disease or contaminate surfaces or items.
How is Circovirus treated?
Just like Parvovirus in the 1980’s, many gastrointestinal viruses have no specific cure but are treated with supportive care including intravenous fluids, antibiotics for secondary infections, and other therapies. Early in-hospital treatment was one important factor believed to improve survival for some earlier cases of suspected Circovirus.
Is there a vaccine?
A vaccine isn’t available at this time. This is a new virus, and it should be recognized that it takes years to get a vaccine tested and approved for use in pets.
What should pet owners do if their pet is showing symptoms?
It’s important not to panic. There are many reasons why dogs develop vomiting and diarrhea. Dog owners should consult with your veterinarian if your dog develops symptoms consistent with Circovirus.
How can pet owners keep their dogs safe?
Pet owners should use good sense measures- clean up your pets waste, avoid contact with sick animals, and keep up to date on other preventative measures like vaccines and dewormings.