Mystery disease claims dogs across UK

An animal trust is investigating reports of a mystery illness that is killing dogs across several counties in the UK.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT), based in Newmarket, is following up reports of dogs suddenly falling ill and dying after being walked in woodlands.

The condition, dubbed Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI), has prompted the AHT to issue warnings to dog owners across Suffolk, Nottinghamshire and Norfolk.

Spokesman Richard Newton has said that the AHT was not aware of any cases so far in 2011, but were alerted to a flurry of incidents that occurred at the beginning of September. He added that they were able to pinpoint specific locations as both vets and dog owners had contacted them as soon as their dogs had fallen ill.

The symptoms of SCI include lethargy, diarrhoea and vomiting, and dog owners are advised to take them to a vet as soon as they become apparent.

Currently, Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire, and Thetford Forest and Sandringham Estate in Norfolk are being studied for clues to the culprit.

Mr Newton commented:

“We do not believe that dogs are at any more risk walking at the four sites we’re investigating than at any other woodland site. We simply need to limit our investigation area in order to get the most useful data.”

“Nearly 400 people completed questionnaires last autumn after walking dogs in these areas but we were also alerted to other areas, across the whole of the UK, where dog owners believe cases had occurred.”

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