Ongoing search for mystery deadly dog virus

Agencies and landowners in Lincolnshire are helping to find out what caused a mystery deadly illness while dogs were on walks.

Last year, a Lincoln man’s dog died after it was taken for a walk in Clumber Park. It is suspected the King Charles Spaniel died of Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI).

The local man’s dog was not the only pet to fall ill and die last autumn of the illness — owners in Nottinghamshire, East Anglia and Warwickshire also reported similar symptoms when walking in the countryside.

Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking and trembling and high temperature within 24 hours after being walked in the countryside, particularly woodlands.

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.”

While the cause is determined, owners are advised to watch out for sudden illness in their dogs, and contact a vet immediately.

Also, dog owners should monitor where their dog is walked, what it may eat or drink while out and consider keeping dogs on a lead more.

Vets can then report suspected cases to the relevant authority.

The Forestry Commission also stepped up its attempts to solve the mystery in a number of ways:

  • Data collection on incidents is coordinated between agencies 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, even if dogs did not fall ill.
  • Nottingham University Veterinary School is to carry out two research projects to try to 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 will monitor reports for unusual cases which could be SCI.
Source: Forestry Commission | Photo: Lincolnian Brian