A New Infectious Virus in Dogs?

There may be a new and ugly infection of dogs that could spell trouble – or maybe not. Confirmed so far in only a handful dogs in Ohio, the organism, called circovirus, has been implicated in cases of severe, sudden onset vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, and physical depression. Speculation is rampant. Here is what we know so far.

Circovirus causes, or may be involved in causing, marked inflammation of blood vessels, called vasculitis, potentially leading to tissue death. So far it has largely been considered a secondary infectious agent

How prevalent is circovirus?  One report showed the virus in 11.3% of dogs with diarrhea. It was also found in 6.9% of dogs who were completely healthy. Circovirus may not be solely responsible for internal mayhem; it could be only an accomplice. With investigations just getting underway, multiple perpetrators are being considered. Circovirus is not officially a suspect but it is a virus of interest.

I am bringing this to the attention of my readers not because there is reason for immediate concern but because circovirus has already gotten some media attention. The clear-headed view is that there are no reliable indicators that this will be a new plague on dogs. New Mexico is not a hotbed of circovirus now and it may never be.

There is nothing for dog owners to do but wait for more science-based information. No vaccination is currently available. Cases where circovirus is suspected should be hospitalized and treated with intense supportive care, much like parvo infections. As veterinarians become aware of it they can submit blood, stool, and tissue samples for analysis. Hysteria would be a bit silly. Miss America, the Nichol family Border collie, is sleeping well and so is her male parental figure, and personal veterinarian, yours truly.