The Animal Health Trust has held two briefing events for those affected by Seasonal Canine Illness. Investigations have revealed “no obvious evidence” that plants, fungi, algae or bracken spore toxins are to blame.

A veterinary charity investigating Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) has held two briefing events for vets and stakeholders being affected by the condition.

Scientists and clinicians from the Suffolk-based Animal Health Trust (AHT) travelled to Norfolk and Nottinghamshire to update professionals closest to the investigation on the progress being made.

No obvious evidence of any plants, fungi, blue-green algae or bracken spore toxins that would cause the clinical signs of SCI in dogs through direct contact.More than 50 veterinary professionals and stakeholders attended the briefings which were held on October 31 and November 2, led by Dr Richard Newton of the AHT, who is leading the SCI investigation.

In September scientists from the AHT visited specific, SCI-affected areas on the Sandringham Estate with British field botanist Mark Spencer from the Natural History Museum, who discovered no obvious evidence of any plants, fungi, blue-green algae or bracken spore toxins that would cause the clinical signs of SCI in dogs through direct contact, as first thought.

Other lines of enquiry, including possible links between SCI and harvest mites and, to a lesser extent, links to wood pigeons and other bird species, are being followed up by experts in the necessary fields, both in the UK and internationally, Dr Newton claimed.

The AHT is continuing its investigation based at five sites – Sandringham Estate and Thetford Forest in Norfolk, Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, and Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk – and is still requesting that owners who have walked their dogs at any of the sites since the beginning of August 2011 complete the relevant questionnaire on the AHT website, regardless of whether dogs became ill.

The charity expects that the number of cases will start to decline rapidly over the next few weeks, but warned dog owners to remain vigilant. At the same time, the AHT team appealed to vets to continue to help with its investigation, asking them to:

  • Provide details of clinical history and laboratory investigations of SCI cases that they have been involved with to the AHT’s head of internal medicine, Isabelle Cattin;
  • Talk to owners of fatal SCI cases about submission for post-mortem (the cost of which will be covered by the AHT);
  • Seek permission for in-house collection of samples in cases where submission for post-mortem at the AHT is not possible (a list of requested samples can be found here).

According to the AHT, information from post-mortem and samples taken will provide a unique opportunity for scientists to refine the clinical and pathological definitions of SCI. This will help to focus more targeted investigations on possible causes of SCI.


  • Vets able to assist the AHT investigations into SCI should call 01638 555399 or email
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