Five more cases of dogs ‘mystery illness’ after walking in Notts woods

DOG owners in Nottinghamshire are being asked to keep a close eye on their pets as efforts intensify to find the cause of a mystery illness.

Five new cases of suspected Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) have been reported in Nottinghamshire over the past two weeks -- including two in Sherwood Forest, two in Blidworth Woods and one in Clumber Park.

Now Nottinghamshire County Council is urging dog owners who have walked their pets at any of the sites since 1st August this year to complete a questionnaire -- even if their dogs were not taken ill.

The online questionnaire has been set up by the Animal Health Trust at www.aht.org.uk/seasonal illness.html.

The first reported cases of SCI occurred during autumn 2009 and 2010, when several dogs which had been walked in woodlands suddenly became ill and, in some cases, died. Cases have also been reported in other areas of the country including Lincolnshire, Warwickshire and East Anglia.

Symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhoea, shaking and a high temperature and usually occur within 24 hours of walking in the countryside, especially in woodlands.

The outbreaks occur at the same time each year and only for a handful of weeks. No evidence has yet been found as to the cause, which is thought to be natural.

Nottinghamshire County Council has joined forces with The Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency, National Trust, Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, and Ashfield and Mansfield district councils to try to solve the problem and ensure that data collection on incidents is co-ordinated to achieve a much better picture of any outbreaks

Coun John Cottee, the County Council’s cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “The Council is supporting the Forestry Commission and other partners to try and resolve this problem.

“Our main role to date has been in trying to raise awareness with dog walkers using our land, with local vets and our employees. The County Council’s Scrutiny Committee has set up a small working group to co-ordinate this work.

“No obvious cause has yet been found and nothing has been ruled out. I would therefore urge dog owners to complete the online questionnaire.”

In the meantime, he said dog owners should:

be vigilant for signs of illness and contact a vet immediately if concerned.

be aware of where their dog is walking and what it may be eating and drinking.

think about keeping their dog on a lead.

tell other pet owners about the project to spread the word.