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Health Scare: Dogs Infected with Mysterious Disease

CANAL FULTON, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Agriculture is testing samples taken from sick dogs treated at a Stark County animal clinic.

Dr. Melanie Butera from the Elm Ridge Animal Hospital on Portage NW has treated three, possibly four dogs that may have been infected with a mysterious, undiagnosed disease. One dog died after Dr. Butera attempted to treat the animal.

“I’m a tiny little practice, so for me to see possibly four cases in a short period of time really does have me worried,” said Butera.

After a similar outbreak of an unknown infection killed three dogs in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, the Ohio Department of Agriculture urged all pet owners to watch their dogs.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “Affected dogs suffered from severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Owners should observe their dogs and contact a veterinarian immediately if they show similar symptoms.”

“These dogs are sicker than sick; they’re not just a little bit sick,” said Dr. Butera. “They are just profoundly weak. I mean, they come in not even lifting their heads up off the floor or the table.”

Denielle Kidder has a 10-year-old mixed breed who battled back from a horrible infection a few weeks ago. The dog, Lexi, continues to undergo bandage changes after a small wound spread along her backside.

“The small spot had grown and I assumed it had gotten infected and then the fur started falling off, so I called the vet and made an appointment,” said Denielle.

State officials are trying to determine if the cases are all connected and if they are, what is causing the health scare. They’re now hoping samples taken from Dr. Butera’s patients and sent to a lab will provide more information.

“It’s so fast. These patients go from well to – unfortunately – some of them passed away within 48 hours time. It’s so fast,” said Dr. Butera.

Denielle Kidder did what the state is now recommending and immediately called her vet who saved Lexi’s life.

“She’s playful again and she’s interacting with the kids. She’s getting a lot better, her personality,” said Denielle.

The samples are being tested for any possible virus, bacteria, even tick or food-related pathogens.

But because they don’t know what they’re looking for, officials say the results could take weeks.