October 3, 2013
Canine circovirus infections have been documented in dogs with vomiting and diarrhea. The distribution of the virus in the U.S. is not yet known, but dogs infected with circovirus have been reported in California and circovirus may be associated with recent illness and death of dogs in Ohio.
Listen to AVMA's podcast (Sept 23) about the Ohio investigation.
Q: What are circoviruses?
A: Circoviruses are small viruses that have been known to infect pigs and birds. They are also known to survive well in the environment once shed from affected animals. Porcine circoviruses are very common throughout the world. Porcine circovirus 2 can cause postweaning multisystemic wasting syndrome in 2-4 month old piglets, resulting in weight loss, poor growth and high death rates. Although porcine circoviruses were first identified more than 30 years ago, there is still much unknown about the viruses. Circovirus can also infect birds, causing beak and feather disease in psittacine birds (such as parrots, parakeets, budgies and cockatiels), infectious anemia in chickens, and deadly infections in pigeons, canaries and finches.
Q: Are the dogs in Ohio infected with circovirus?
Q: Are the dogs in Michigan infected with circovirus?
A: As of October 3, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has been investigating illnesses similar to those observed in Ohio. The investigation will take time, and at this time they are not confirming that circovirus is involved.
Q: How are dogs being infected with circovirus?
Although some of the dogs showing clinical disease were recently boarded or at doggie daycare facilities, this should not be taken as an indication that this virus is only spread at boarding kennels or that boarding your dog or taking it to daycare will result in infection. Any parent who has taken their child to daycare knows that a high concentration of children in an area can increase the spread of colds and other illnesses; the same thing can happen when dogs are gathered in an area.
Q: Are there other diseases that are similar to circovirus infection?
If your dog is showing signs of illness, contact your veterinarian to get the correct diagnosis (including any necessary laboratory testing). Even if it turns out to be something minor, you can have peace of mind knowing that your dog’s health is not threatened.
Q: What should pet owners do?
Although we still have a lot to learn about this circovirus, there’s no cause for panic. We know that dogs infected with circovirus don’t always become ill, but we don’t know how much of the virus they may shed in their stool or how much risk these dogs present as sources of infection for other dogs. Theoretically, it’s possible, and that’s one of many reasons why it’s so important that you pick up after your own dog and avoid contact with stool from other dogs when possible.
Simple, common sense measures are in order, including the avoidance of contact with ill animals (and if your dog is ill, avoid contact with other dogs until your dog has fully recovered) and cleaning up after your pet passes stool. A healthy pet is more likely to have a fully functional immune system to fight infections, so keeping your pet healthy with good preventive care is also important.
Q: Is there a vaccine for circovirus?
Q: What should kennels and doggy daycare facilities do?
The AVMA would like to thank the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians for their assistance in creating this resource.