EAST LANSING, Mich. - Two cases of a newly identified dog virus have shown up in Michigan, but it's unclear whether the ailment has killed any dogs, Michigan State University researchers said Friday.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that a veterinarian has seen 20-30 cases of the illness since August and six dogs have died.
The university's Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health said it found canine circovirus in samples from two dogs submitted by veterinary clinics. But acting director Thomas Mullaney said both animals were infected with other organisms, so it's uncertain whether the virus caused their sicknesses.
"Currently, circovirus by itself is not associated with a specific disease process," he said. But it has been shown to cause disease when combined with other viruses or bacteria in other species, including pigs.
Veterinarians at a clinic in Ann Arbor say they've treated a number of dogs that died after exhibiting symptoms of the virus, including vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea.
But the university center said the reports are no reason for dog owners to panic. It said veterinarians should look for circovirus in animals only after ruling out more common causes of the same symptoms.
Canine circovirus was first reported in 2012. Infections have been reported in California. The American Veterinary Medical Association says the virus initially was suspected of killing several dogs in Ohio in August and September, but is no longer being considered as the primary cause of their deaths.
Experts don't know how dogs are being infected, although the highest risk of spreading viruses comes through contact with an infected animal.