The UK has been struck by a mysterious illness that has left 21 dogs dead. Various breeds and 50 canines in total have contracted the disease over the last year and a half.
The symptoms of the illness include lethargy, skin lesions on the dogs chest and legs, vomiting and loss of appetite. Furthermore, the disease also targets the kidneys and in most cases leads to a death that occurs for a drawn out period of time.
Half of the cases have been around New Forest in Hampshire. Other areas include Yorkshire, Middlesex, Cornwall, Surrey, Worcestershire, Dorset, County Durham, Delamere, Shropshire, Upton, Christchurch, and Co. Antrim.
Reported cases have been Barney, an eight-year-old border collie in Latchmore Brook, Hampshire, Tegan, a three-year-old fox terrier cross, and an 11-year-old weiramanda named Summer owned by Angel Larder.
Jonathan Tricker, the owner of Barney, vowed to never walk a dog to a forest again, calling Barney his friend, partner and defender. He described himself as whispering comfort in Barney’s ear and how the canine’s tail was still wagging as he passed.
Angel Larder described her best friend Summer as being old yet healthy. The owner expressed the hardship to the Daily Mail UK of watching Summer “die day by day.”
The most recent of the 21 dead in UK was Tegan. It was revealed by tests that the mysterious disease, which the dog contracted in New Hampshire, had reached her pancreas. Owner Sarah Thairs was forced to make the heartbreaking decision to put her to sleep.
The illness is similar to Alabama Rot from the 1980s in the U.S. That disease was caused by E. Coli and back then only greyhounds were affected. However, fears are rampant that the disease could be back and spreading to other breeds of dogs.
According to the Greyhound Racing Association of America, the disease was caused from cattle that were dying, dead, disabled or diseased and fed to the dog. Symptoms, similar to the mysterious illness today, included skin lesions on the chest, abdomen, and legs, with potential to spread across other areas of the skin. All of the symptoms would culminate into failure of the liver, which is fatal to the canine.
The source of the illness is not known. However, the Environment Agency has ruled out water supplies contaminated by chemicals. It is believed, due to its similarity to Alabama Rot, that the disease could be produced from some kind of toxin with E. Coli bacteria, though this has not been proven and no signs have been shown of it on the infected dogs.
The President of the British Veterinary Association Robin Hargreaves makes note how understandable it is to feel anxious about entering regions where the dogs have been infected. However, he reminds dog owners that only a small proportion have been affected of the total number of dogs that have walked in the area. Hargreaves tells owners to be aware of the symptoms and signs and to immediately contact their veterinarian upon concerns.
Veterinarian David Walker, another investigator of the mysterious disease said there is no pattern among the 21 dead and a variety of breeds of dogs had contracted it, which makes it hard to treat and find the cause. Warnings have been posted up by The Forestry Commission in New Forest and the other danger areas across the UK.
By Kollin Lore