Mystery Dog Illness!!!

September 14, 2013:

The Ohio Department of Agriculture is trying to determine whether four dead dogs — three in Cincinnati and one in the Akron-Canton area — had the same illness and whether that illness was caused by a newly detected virus.

On Friday, the department asked Ohio veterinarians to watch for the symptoms of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weight loss and lethargy, and to contact the state if they suspect the illness.

Owners whose animals have the symptoms should call their vet, said Erica Hawkins, communication director for the department.

“We feel obligated to make sure pet owners are aware this is happening,” Hawkins said. “ Supportive therapies can be helpful if started early enough. But we don’t want people to get too worried.”

Three dogs died in mid-August in Cincinnati after staying in the same kennel.

Dr. Melanie Butera, the veterinarian for the dog in the Akron-Canton area, contacted the Agriculture Department. She also treated several dogs with similar symptoms that survived.

The department began investigating all four deaths and sent a fecal sample from one of Butera’s patients to a research lab in California. That sample tested positive for canine circovirus, a newly isolated virus.

Hawkins said little is known about the virus, including where it comes from or how it spreads. The virus can cause hemorrhaging and vasculitis, which is an inflammation of blood vessels.

Butera told the Agriculture Department that the ill dogs she treated had both hemorrhaging and vasculitis.

USDA Cracks Down on Internet Pet Sales

Source: MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press

 The Agriculture Department is cracking down on dog breeders who sell puppies over the Internet, issuing new regulations that will force them to apply for federal licenses.

The rules announced Tuesday would subject dog owners who breed more than four females and sell the puppies online, by mail or over the phone to the same oversight faced by wholesale animal breeders.

 The idea behind the new rules, says USDA's Kevin Shea, is that either government inspectors or buyers see the animals with their own eyes before they are sold.

Shea, administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, says the agency is responding to a 2010 USDA inspector general's report that uncovered grisly conditions at so-called "puppy mills" around the country. The report recommended that the department tighten the animal welfare laws — written more than four decades ago, long before the advent of the Internet — to cut down on unscrupulous breeders.

 The rules are targeted to dog breeders but could affect breeders of other animals too. The Agriculture Department estimates that up to 4,640 dog breeders could be affected by the rule, along with about 325 cat breeders and up to 75 rabbit breeders.

Animal protection groups cheered the move. Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, said he has been working on the issue for almost two decades. While mail-order dog sales were a problem before popular use of the Internet, online sales have made the problem much worse, he said.

"There are hundreds of thousands of dogs languishing in small wire cages, denied vet care and exposed to the elements that literally had no protection under federal law," Pacelle said. "This turns that around."

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