16:14 Friday 24 January 2014

Dog owners reassured over deadly disease fear

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

UTTOXETER dog owners are being reassured after recent media coverage of a deadly disease hitting the canine world.

Owners have been calling Abbeyfields vets in Rocester expressing concern about the illness, which is has similar symptoms to ‘Alabama rot’, which broke out in America in the 1980s.

The dogs that have caught the disease have all been known to have walked in the New Forest area of England.

They developed sores on their legs and face and, three to seven days later, developed acute kidney failure.

However, Abbeyfields’ Catrina Durose has told the Advertiser even dogs that have visited the New Forest are at ‘very low risk’ of catching the disease.

She said: “A total of 14 dogs were identified to be suffering the unknown illness between December 2012 and April 2013.

“No further cases were reported until this month, with two suspected cases in the past three weeks.

“Not all cases have been fatal, with two dogs surviving.

“These symptoms are similar to ‘Alabama rot’ reported in America during 1980’s but this was caused by a toxin of the bacteria E.coli. “However, this is not the same disease as that being reported in the New Forest.

“Extensive testing has been performed by a whole host of veterinary and human specialists on blood, urine, faecal and body tissue samples from the affected dogs.”

The test results excluded all common causes of acute kidney failure, inlcuding bacterial, viral and fungal infections and toxicity from heavy metals.

Water testing for hazardous chemicals and algae toxins has also been performed in the New Forest but all have come back negative.

Miss Durose said: “The Forestry Commission has put up signage warning pet owners of the potential danger, but actual risk is very low considering the hundreds of dogs that walk through the area every week, with only a handful of cases resulting in the sad loss of these beloved pets.

“We urge dog owners locally not to panic, there are no reports of any similar cases in our area.

“The publication on this cluster of cases has not increased pet owner awareness but merely resulted in scaring dog owners nationwide without real necessity.

“There are much more real dangers to be concerned about locally.

“We saw only two weeks ago a case of fatal acute kidney failure in a young dog that was not vaccinated.

“The poor puppy suffered from the lethal Leptospirosis or Weil’s disease.

“This is caused by the bacteria Leptospira which is present all the time in the environment, found in contaminated water, spread by urine of rats and other dogs.

“We are urging all owners to be vigilant about vaccinating their dogs, young and old, every year in order to protect them from this deadly disease.”

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