State Works To Identify Mysterious Fatal Dog Illness - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

State Works To Identify Mysterious Fatal Dog Illness

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State officials are warning Ohio dog owners to keep an extra eye out for symptoms of a mysterious illness that has claimed the life of at least four dogs in the Buckeye state.

The Ohio Department of Agriculture said its Division of Animal Health has been taking reports of sick dogs and investigating.

Symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy.

The illness has killed at least four dogs in Ohio so far including in Cincinnati and the Akron area.

Dr. Brian Jefferson works in the emergency room for MedVet, a 24-hour pet hospital in Worthington. Jefferson said his staff has seen an influx of calls from pet owners worried their dogs have the symptoms. However, Jefferson also said it is important to pay careful attention to your pet because the warning signs often mimic symptoms of other illnesses.

"So many other illnesses that we know cause these kinds of symptoms in dogs and because of that anytime your dog experiences illness the first thing you should do is just get to your veterinarian," Jefferson said.

The warning is something pet owners Geri and Duffy Jamieson said they will take to heart. The couple said that keeping their terrier Biggy healthy has always been a priority so they are frightened to hear about the mysterious illness.

"That's very scary to think. Especially since the symptoms are so innocuous. You would never think that your dog might die from some of those symptoms. So that's very troubling," Duffy Jamieson said.

While the illness remains a mystery state officials said they are working to identify the problem. But according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, a sample from one sick dog tested positive for canine circovirus. ODA said it is the first laboratory detection of that virus in Ohio.

Jefferson said circovirus has been known to be present in pigs but not dogs.

"That's important because it's a unique virus. It hasn't really been identified in veterinary patients before, at least not dogs. So they're really working to understand whether this virus is in fact a contributor or a sole cause of this illness," Jefferson said.

Veterinarians said that if your dog displays any of the warning symptoms immediately seek medical care.

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