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Deadly new virus attacking dogs: What you need to know

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Deadly new virus attacking dogs: What you need to know

By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED Dec 16, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When dogs first started coming into the veterinary clinics, lethargic and vomiting, veterinarians didn't know exactly what they were dealing with. 

But now it's clear the new virus, circovirus, is one that originated in pigs and birds, and vets say there are a lot more questions than answers. 

Dogs around the country are falling ill to this potentially deadly disease, and Dr. Ashleigh Rhoades from Southern Arizona Veterinary Center said owners should be on the lookout.

"What they're going to see is a severe depression, collapse, weakness, this vomiting and diarrhea and not wanting to eat," she said. 

But if symptoms get this bad, Rhoades said dogs can suffer severe organ failure and even die. 

"As long as we can get them in early and start treatment, the prognosis is much better," she explained. "The later we get these animals, the worse they are and it's really tough...it's much tougher to get them healthy again."

Vets have seen possible cases in Ohio, Michigan and California.

Experts aren't sure how the virus jumped from pigs and birds to man's best friend, but they say between dogs, it's highly contagious, and more likely to be spread through kennels or dog parks. 

There is no vaccine for dogs as the virus is too new, but vets say it can be treated and to get your pet in right away if it exhibits any of the symptoms.

Simone Del Rosario

Simone Del Rosario

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Simone is the KGUN 9 On Your Side resident cowgirl. She has spent most of her life on the back of a horse, and spent all of her high school and college years traveling from rodeo to rodeo with her horses and her dog, Roper.