Deadly dog virus strikes in Michigan, quickly kills six; Mystery illness blamed for Ohio dog deaths

ANN ARBOR, Mich - A deadly dog virus has struck Ann Arbor, Michigan already quickly killing six. Veterinarians say it may spread from owners to their pets.

Eleven-year-old Brutus started to show symptoms of the unusual virus Tuesday.

"He would try to bark, and he would cry every time," said owner Aarika Pederson. The Tecumseh woman did not get alarmed until Wednesday when Brutus didn't want to eat and barely moved.

"I was trying not to lose it," said Pederson.

Veterinarians don't know exactly what kind of virus Brutus has, because there is no name for it yet. This is the first time the virus has been seen in metro Detroit and it's quickly killing dogs. 

"Usually within about 12 to 24 hours of it starting," said Dr. Lindsay Ruland of the Emergency Veterinary Hospital in Ann Arbor.

Dr. Ruland said Brutus and other dogs with the unknown virus are showing flu like symptoms. "Severe abdominal pain, often times bloody diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy," she continued.

The virus is similar Circovirus that started getting dogs sick last year in San Diego. Cases of the illness have been reported all across Ohio, killing several dogs and causing the Ohio Department of Agriculture to investigate.

How the disease is transmitted is unknown. But canines with the virus appear to also have owners who are sick.

"Traditionally we don't pass viruses to our pets. This year, I think that there is potential that we are passing it to our pets," said Dr. Ruland.

Sure enough, Pederson said she has not been feeling well since Sunday. "I've had this stomach pain that just comes, that's right beneath my ribs," she said.

Luckily, Pederson brought Brutus in early enough that the virus was caught in time. "I can't imagine being without him right now."

So far, no humans have died from the virus nor do doctors believe humans will get severely ill. To prevent the spread of germs and viruses, doctors recommend washing your hands and using hand sanitizer frequently.

It is not known if the virus can spread to other pets. So far, the virus has only been seen in dogs.

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