UK agencies and landowners are stepping up their efforts to find out why some dogs have fallen ill while on countryside walks. Numerous cases of Seasonal Canine Illness occurred during the Autumn of 2009 and 2010.

UK agencies and landowners are stepping up their efforts to find out why some dogs have fallen ill while on countryside walks.
 
Walking in a local country park. Image courtesy Dan Mitchell @ sxc.huCases of the mystery syndrome, now assigned the name Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI), were reported during the Autumn of 2009 and 2010 in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, East Anglia and Warwickshire, although there have been reports from further afield.
 
Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking and trembling and high temperature and have generally been displayed by animals within 24 hours of walking in the countryside, especially in woodlands. A small number of dogs have died, but the cause remains unknown.
 
Jo Atkinson, from the Forestry Commission, said: “Although no cases have yet been reported this year, we are working with our many partners to get a clearer picture of the distribution and reasons behind this upsetting sickness. Both dog owners and vets can play their part too in helping protect cherished pets.”
 
Developments include:

  • Agencies including the Forestry Commission and Notts County Council have teamed up to ensure that data collection on incidents is co-ordinated to achieve a much better picture of any outbreaks. It is likely that cases have gone unreported in previous years.
  • The Animal Health Trust is asking dog owners who have walked in affected areas to fill in a questionnaire at www.aht.org.uk/seasonal_illness.html, even if dogs did not fall ill.
  • AHT Seasonal Canine Illness information leaflet.The University of Nottingham’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science is to carry out two research projects to try and develop a test for a possible toxin which may be to blame.
  • Landowners are seeking to work with vets to learn about cases more rapidly so they can inform people using their sites for dog walking.
  • The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) will monitor reports for unusual cases which could be SCI.

WHAT CAN VETS DO?
According to the VPIS, veterinary surgeons should:

  1. Report suspected cases in Nottinghamshire to enquiries.sherwood@forestry.gsi.gov.uk
  2. Collect and store samples for possible use by Nottingham University.
  3. Encourage pet owners to complete the Animal Health Trust questionnaire.
  4. Display the AHT information sheet and questionnaire prominently in surgeries.

Further information is available on the VPIS website, both on the veterinarian pages and also animal owner pages.


Top image courtesy Dan Mitchell
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