The Ohio Department of Agriculture is working with animal health experts to determine the cause and origin of a series of dog illnesses in the state

After reports of several pet deaths last month, the Ohio Department of Agriculture began urging pet owners to closely monitor their dogs for signs of illness. Affected dogs suffered from severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

Although there are several known causes of these symptoms in dogs, it is generally believed that there is an unknown contributor to the cases, the Department said.

While we continue to work diligently to identify what is making these dogs sick, we are asking Ohio s veterinarians to help by contacting our laboratory for consultation if they suspect they are treating a related case, said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey.

Owners of dogs with similar symptoms have been asked to contact their veterinarian immediately. The department has also recommended concerned dog owners take standard precautions used to reduce the spread of viral infections, including monitoring the animal closely for signs of illness and refraining from co-mingling them with other dogs.

As part of its investigation, the Department also announced the presence of canine circovirus in a fecal sample taken from an ill dog in the state. It's the first laboratory detection of canine circovirus in Ohio. Further work is being done to verify the significance of this finding.

The laboratory confirmation is important because the virus is newly isolated, however we are not prepared at this time to confirm that canine circovirus is the cause of the dog illnesses, said State Veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey. Because the symptoms being exhibited can also be linked to other known illnesses, additional analysis and information is needed to determine if this virus alone or in co-infection contributes to illness and death in dogs.

Canine circovirus is newly isolated and there is very little information available about the virus, where it came from and how it spreads. The limited research available shows that canine circovirus can cause vasculitis and hemorrhaging in infected dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in April that pathologists at the University of California-Davis discovered the virus - normally associated with pigs - in dogs in April.

The detection of a circovirus in tissues of dogs expands the known tropism of these viruses to a second mammalian host. Our results indicate that circovirus, alone or in co-infection with other pathogens, might contribute to illness and death in dogs, the report in the online Emerging Disease Journal stated.

Before 2012, the only
 circocviruses reported that had infected mammals were two closely related porcine circoviruses that have been reported worldwide in pigs.

The report, titled Circovirus in Tissues of Dogs with Vasculitis and Hemorrhage, which details the study, can be found at

The Ohio Department of Agriculture continues to investigate, but they haven't released any information since Sept. 6.

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