Social media (and local media) has been abuzz recently about a circovirus that has killed dogs in Cincinnati and Michigan. These reports are untrue according to the newest information. There is a relatively new virus, a circovirus that first appeared on the West Coast in 2012. It is a viral infection that causes flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, fever, and diarrhea, much like many other viral infections. It is true that this virus causes symptoms that can lead to death of a pet through dehydration or other issues but anytime those symptoms are seen, you should bring your dog to a veterinarian anyhow.
Circovirus, however, does not appear to be the cause of these dogs’ deaths as hyped in our local media. In most cases, circovirus wasn’t even present in the animals that died. The dogs that did have circovirus present also had co-infections present such as other viruses or bacterial infections. Circovirus probably just added to the problems in these dogs but wasn’t the cause of their death. Circovirus by itself isn’t associated with a specific disease process.
In fact, circovirus is found in the feces of around 70% of all sick dogs and in the feces of many healthy dogs. It is no longer being considered the primary cause of the illnesses since only one of the four sick dogs in Ohio was found to be carrying circovirus. While there is not currently a vaccine for circovirus, the animals appear to be responding well to treatment.
Bottom line: Don’t freak out about circovirus but anytime your animal is sick, they need to see a vet!