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Mysterious Disease Kills Dogs in Michigan

An unidentified disease has killed dogs in Michigan, officials said, researchers who have not identified what caused the dogs to exhibit symptoms, including vomiting, lethargy and loss of appetite.

Local officials said earlier this month they had received reports of dogs, mostly young dogs, vomiting and having bloody stools. According to the Otsego County Animal Shelter, more than 20 dogs had died in northern Michigan’s Otsego County, most of which died within a few days.

dr. Nora Wineland, the state veterinarian, said Monday that an early investigation showed some dogs may have had canine parvovirus, but officials were still investigating the disease.

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes gastrointestinal illness primarily in puppies, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. It can spread through dog-to-dog contact or contact with contaminated feces or an infected area.

AVMA said dogs that are sick with canine parvovirus should be kept warm and hydrated. Dogs treated early and properly can survive about 90% of the time.

Most cases have been reported in northern Michigan in dogs that were older or younger than two years of age, according to the Otsego County Animal Shelter.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is investigating the disease along with other local and state officials, said Tuesday it had anecdotal information indicating that about 15 to 25 dogs could be infected. However, the state did not have an official number, as veterinarians are not required to report cases of canine parvovirus to government officials.

The department said Monday that the virus is not contagious to humans or other animals.

The Otsego County Animal Shelter said last week it had not received any reports of properly vaccinated dogs that had died from the disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that dogs receive the canine parvovirus vaccine while they are puppies.

“Dog owners should make sure their pet is up to date with routine vaccinations as this is the first step in keeping your pet healthy,” said Dr. wine country.

Write to Alyssa Lukpat at alyssa.lukpat@wsj.com

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