Update - unexplained dog deaths

dogs, Rhinefield

Published Friday 7 March 2014

Latest updates on dog deaths

Latest update from the Forestry Commission

March 2015

Background
CRGV, popularly known as ‘Alabama rot’, is a disease that has been known about since the late 1980s in the USA. Since December 2012 a number of suspected and confirmed cases have been seen in counties throughout the UK.

Dogs reported with the disease can suffer kidney failure and/or skin lesions. The cause of the disease remains unknown.

Context

Although reports come from people who have walked their dog in the countryside, the cause of the disease remains unknown.

Many thousands of dogs are walked in the countryside every day and it is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected.

Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause.

Because the cause remains unknown we do not want to give the impression that some areas are safer than others indeed there may not be an environmental trigger.

The Forestry Commission is not informing visitors about specific sites unless cases are confirmed as CRGV and a scientific connection to the dogs walked on the site is made.

Please remember:

  • The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day
  • This is not isolated to the New Forest - similar cases have been identified in other parts of the country
  • The Forest is open for business as usual.

What should I look out for?

The skin lesions are a symptom of the disease rather than being traumatic wounds from an injury.

Typically the skin lesions have been below the knee or elbow although they are occasionally seen on the face or bottom of the chest or abdomen.

They may present as a focal swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect in the skin (like an ulcer).
Over the subsequent two to 10 days the affected dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.

What should I do?

If you are concerned about your dog please speak to your local vet. If your dog is affected, early recognition of the disease and aggressive management is likely to lead to the best outcome.

It is important to stress that the case numbers are very low. Without knowing the trigger for the disease it is impossible to give specific advice about walking your dog.

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists have produced a helpful fact sheet for dog owners.

If you are a vet, please direct your enquiries to Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists on 01962 767920 or email info@andersonmoores.com.

Questionnaire

The Animal Health Trust has launched an online survey to help with the investigation, which is now closed.

Where have cases been to date?

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists have been collating information on the cases and leading investigations. The latest information can be found here www.andersonmoores.com/vet/news/.

A paper summarising the details of 30 of the confirmed cases has now been published by The Veterinary Record and is available at: http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/early/2015/03/13/vr.102892.abstract

21 July 2014

No new cases of cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) have been identified since early June 2014. Pathology results from two cases (Hampshire and Somerset) have now been confirmed to have been affected by CRGV.

With the recognition of one historical case this brings the total number of confirmed cases nationwide to 44 since November 2012. Any further major developments over the next few months will be posted on the veterinary website. Otherwise updates will be posted on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/VetSpecialists.

Of the confirmed cases, 15 cases have been confirmed in the New Forest and 29 elsewhere.

Since December 2012, there have been 17 'unconfirmed' cases of Alabama Rot throughout the UK. 11 out of these 17 cases were in the New Forest with five being 'unconfirmed' survivors.

7 March 2014

Dogs becoming ill and in some cases dying from what was thought to be acute renal failure was brought to our attention in November last year, and unfortunately we have seen further cases this year. This has not been restricted to the New Forest where the issue was first highlighted, with confirmed cases continuing to emerge across the UK.

The Forestry Commission’s initial approach on Crown lands in the New Forest was to erect signage in places where confirmed cases had been reported. However, over the past weeks and months we have listened and taken the concerns and suggestions from dog walkers regarding our approach very seriously. Understandably, those unfortunate to have lost a loved pet to symptoms of the disease (which has now been called ‘Alabama Rot’) have urged us to erect signage at sites where their dog was last walked immediately, before awaiting confirmation of the case from specialist veterinary professionals.

In order not to present misinformation, we resisted this approach and as the cases have now spread far and wide across the counties of the UK, signing some areas and not others implies that there are 'out of bounds' and 'safe' areas to walk dogs - which is misleading. Given the low number of confirmed incidents the forest generally remains a safe place to walk your dog.

As a result we have reviewed how we inform visitors at Forestry Commission sites in the New Forest about Alabama Rot, without us waiting for specialist confirmation of the disease.

We intend to provide more general information on Alabama Rot to raise awareness and knowledge of the symptoms amongst dog owners and awareness of the general low risk. As we have over 130 car parks in the New Forest, we do not intend to sign each and every one, but will try to ensure good coverage. We will also make this information available to partners, businesses and dog groups in the area who can help disseminate information as they consider appropriate.

We are talking with vet specialists and partners and endeavouring to have a co-ordinated and consistent approach across everyone’s visitor sites in the New Forest area. The problem is not restricted to the New Forest and so we will make this approach more widely known for others outside of the New Forest to help spread awareness of the issue.

An Information Note to Dog Owners has been produced by Anderson Moores Verterinary Specialists – and can be found on their website: www.andersonmoores.com/vet/news/ 

The website also contains further information regarding cases and the investigation to date: www.andersonmoores.com.

The Animal Health Trust website now hosts an online survey for dog owners which can be completed by anybody, whether or not their dog has shown signs of the illness. This contributes to the ongoing investigation into Alabama Rot: http://www.aht.org.uk/alabamarot

The Forestry Commission website hosts a live table of cases across the UK to date, and gives further information regarding locations within the New Forest area: www.forestry.gov.uk/newforest

We will continue to review our approach and to keep visitors informed.

Fund to facilitate further investigations into ‘Alabama rot’

11 February 2014

A new collection fund has been set up to support the New Forest District Council and partner organisations to identify the cause of an illness that led to the death of several dogs in the New Forest. Research into the mystery dog deaths from kidney failure, has been funded by the New Forest District Council, Forestry Commission, Bridge Pathology and Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. A large amount of work has also been performed on a good will basis by interested scientists.

Now, the New Forest Dog Owners Group has set up a collection fund to help facilitate further investigations into this disease. For more information and to donate, please visit www.newforestdog.org.uk/researchfund

Alternatively, please send a cheque, made payable to NFDOG Research fund, to Hon. Treasurer, Woodcote, Balmer Lawn Road, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TT.

Latest update from New Forest District Council

7 February 2014

Since December 2013 there have been five dogs confirmed to have been affected by cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (‘Alabama rot’ or CRGV). Despite extensive testing, the exact underlying cause remains unknown. One dog survived but unfortunately four dogs did not survive.

The five dogs had been walked in the New Forest at:

  • Wilverley Inclosure (1)
  • Tiptoe (1)
  • Holmsley campsite (1)
  • Gordleton (1)
  • Brockenhurst (1)

This brings the total number of dogs affected by CRGV since late 2012 to 12 from the New Forest.

Confirmed cases from December 2012 to March 2013:

  • Ogdens (3)
  • Vereley (2)
  • Wilverley (1)
  • Dibden (1)

Although the problem is being treated very seriously, the reported cases represent an extremely small proportion of the many hundreds of dogs that are exercised in the New Forest every day and it is likely that this syndrome is extremely rare.

Dogs affected by CRGV have been seen throughout the UK and not solely in the New Forest. There have been seven confirmed cases in counties across the UK, not including Hampshire, since late 2012.

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to 7 days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, then you should seek veterinary attention. This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Most lesions will not be caused by this condition. Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

Please remember:

  • The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day
  • This is not isolated to the New Forest - similar cases were identified in other parts of the country
  • The Forest is open for business as usual.

Questionnaire

A questionnaire for dog owners has been developed by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists and Animal Health Trust in order to collect as much information from dog owners about their location, as well as their dog’s walking routes and diet. This questionnaire is available at www.aht.org.uk/newforestdogdeaths and people are encouraged to complete it. The questionnaire was initially designed for dog owners of affected and unaffected dogs walked in a specific area of the New Forest. It is however applicable to any pet owner walking their dog in the New Forest. The Animal Health Trust will be updating their website to reflect this in due course. A questionnaire for non-New Forest dog owners will also be available shortly. 

Testing
Tests were carried out in 2013 on both the environment and the affected dogs. All of the more common, well-known causes of acute kidney failure were excluded in all of the dogs. Detailed further investigations have been performed on blood, urine, faeces and post mortem tissue. This has included bacterial (including e-coli), viral, and heavy metal testing, which has been negative. Additionally, kidney tissue has been examined by a number of Veterinary pathologists and human nephropathologists (specialist kidney pathologists). Water testing for hazardous chemicals in the New Forest was also performed. Testing is ongoing and any significant results will be made available.

Vets
If you are a vet, please direct your enquiries to Anderson Moores on 01962 767920 or email info@andersonmoores.com.  Visit: http://www.andersonmoores.com/

Latest update from New Forest District Council

January 2014

There have been two suspected cases over the past three weeks - one from Sway and one from Tiptoe. One dog survived and one dog unfortunately died. Pathology results from the dog that died are expected by the beginning of next week. This will allow us to better determine if we are dealing with the same problem as last year. Despite extensive testing, the exact underlying cause unfortunately remains unknown.

Please remember:

  • The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day
  • This is not isolated to the New Forest – similar cases were identified in other parts of the country
  • The Forest is open for business as usual
  • If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to seven days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, then you should seek veterinary attention. This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

There is also additional information on the district council website, which details all the testing that was carried out, and this will be updated as and when there is any new information:  http://www.newforest.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=14110

The Forestry Commission is erecting signage in the area of this latest incident to raise awareness amongst dog walkers.

Latest update from New Forest District Council

October 2013

The council, Forestry Commission, local vets, specialist laboratories, Environment Agency and Animal Health Trust have worked together to try and identify the cause of this illness.

Despite extensive testing, the exact underlying cause unfortunately remains unknown.

The reported cases represent an extremely small proportion of the many hundreds of dogs that are exercised in the New Forest every day and it is likely that this syndrome is extremely rare.

Background

A number of dogs that had been walked in and around the New Forest developed acute kidney failure between December 2012 and March 2013. Six patients were seen by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists over this time period. Three were walked in the Ogdens (Fordingbridge) area, one around the Verely car park area and the other at Wilverley Inclosure. The sixth dog was walked in Upton, Dorset. The last case was seen in April 2013. The most recent dog death reported by the media in August 2013 was not considered to be related to the previous cases.

The affected dogs all initially developed sores/lesions on their legs within 3 to 7 days of the walk and then went on to develop acute kidney failure. As a result of this cluster of cases, a letter was sent to Veterinary surgeons in the south of England advising them of this situation. Additionally, a letter was placed in a Veterinary journal to alert Veterinary surgeons across the UK. An additional eight cases were identified that were considered to be suffering from the same illness. Two of these additional eight cases were from the New Forest (Dibden and Verely car park) and the others were from Worcestershire, Cornwall, County Durham and Surrey. Two of the six dogs seen at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists survived. Unfortunately none of the other dogs survived despite intensive treatment.

Testing

All of the more common, well-known causes of acute kidney failure were excluded in all of the dogs. Detailed further investigations have been performed on blood, urine, faeces and post mortem tissue. This has included bacterial (including e-coli), viral, and heavy metal testing. Additionally, kidney tissue has been examined by a number of Veterinary pathologists and human nephropathologists (specialist kidney pathologists). Water testing for hazardous chemicals in the New Forest was also performed and the illness is not being linked to fungi.

A scientific paper is currently being prepared at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists.

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to seven days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, then you should seek veterinary attention. This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

If you are a vet, please direct your enquiries to Anderson Moores on 01962 767920 or email info@andersonmoores.com

Useful links:

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists www.andersonmoores.com

Latest update from New Forest District Council

10 June 2013

Following many tests and on-site investigations, it is still not known what is responsible for the acute kidney failure that resulted in several dogs dying after they were walked in the Ogdens (Fordingbridge) area of the New Forest in March.

On 2 April, there was one confirmed case in the Smugglers Road-Picket Post-Vereley area but there have been no new cases anywhere in the New Forest since then.

The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day and the instances are not isolated to the New Forest. (There have been confirmed cases in Surrey and in Worcestershire.)

Local vets, specialist laboratories, New Forest District Council, the Forestry Commission, Environment Agency and Animal Health Trust have been working together to try and find the cause of the illness. New Forest District Council and the Forestry Commission have also provided financial assistance to help with the on-going investigation.

Many tests have been carried out but have not resulted in an identified cause - the reality is that it may never be known.

The last result of the viral testing is due in September. If that is also negative, there will be no further line of clinical diagnostic investigation to take at this stage. Veterinary specialists would expect to write a scientific paper about the mystery illness by the end of the year.

Testing to date

  • E.Coli testing negative

  • Other bacterial causes negative

  • Heavy metal testing on tissue from the affected patients and the soil has been negative

  • Tests for organic and inorganic chemicals in the water have also been negative

  • Tissue samples have been examined by specialist human and veterinary pathologists and no exact cause has been identified

  • Results of viral tests expected in July (although a viral cause is considered unlikely).

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

Owners are asked to be vigilant, and to contact their vet if they have any concerns about their dogs.
If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to 7 days after walking in the New Forest area then you should seek veterinary attention. Additionally if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

Online questionnaire

Anderson Moores, veterinary specialists in Hampshire, in collaboration with Forest Veterinary Clinic, Fordingbridge, and with the assistance of the Animal Health Trust, is still looking to collect information from dog owners about the management and behaviour of their dogs while walked in the area.

Dog owners who have walked their dog in Fordingbridge and the surrounding area since the beginning of 2013 (even if their dog has not been affected) are urged to take part in an online survey, which may help in the on-going investigation. The questionnaire is now available atwww.aht.org.uk/newforestdogdeaths  or http://www.andersonmoores.com/. Dog owners who have walked in other areas of the New Forest are also welcome to complete the questionnaire.

Public enquiries

If you are a dog owner and believe that your dog may have been affected by this outbreak, please direct your enquiries to Forest Veterinary Clinic on 01425 652221 or by emailing: forestvetsAKI@aol.co.uk

If you are a vet, please direct your enquiries to Anderson Moores on 01962 767920 or by emailing info@andersonmoores.com.

If you have any information that you believe would help with this investigation or more general enquiries please contact the Forestry Commission - email: enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 023 8028 3141.

The Forestry Commission is unable to give specific advice or guidance to dog walkers as the cause of the distressing outbreak is not known.

Latest update from New Forest District Council

24 April 2013

Following many tests and on-site investigations, it is still not known what is responsible for the recent dog deaths in the Ogdens (Fordingbridge) area of the New Forest – it could be something in the environment or it may be something not related to the Forest.

Local vets, specialist laboratories, New Forest District Council, The Forestry Commission and The Environment Agency continue to co-operate in working to find the cause of the illness but the reality is that it may never be known.

The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day and the instances are not isolated to the New Forest. (There has been one confirmed case in Surrey and two in Worcestershire.) Owners are asked to be vigilant, and to contact their vet if they have any concerns about their dogs.

The Forest is open for business as usual and there is no evidence to suggest that there is any threat to human health.

Latest case:

Of the dogs taken ill/deaths to date, all those within the New Forest had previously been within the same area (Ogdens, Fordingbridge) and all had been walked with other dogs that did not succumb. There have been no news cases in this area since 1 March.

On 2 April, there was a confirmed case in the Smugglers Road-Picket Post-Vereley area (between Burley and the A31). Symptoms were the same as the cases in the Ogdens area.

There have been no news cases anywhere in the New Forest since 2 April.

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog’s leg or face anywhere from 0 to seven days after walking in the New Forest area then you should seek veterinary attention. Additionally if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

Investigation and online questionnaire:

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Hampshire has launched an investigation in collaboration with Forest Veterinary Clinic, Fordingbridge, with the assistance of the Animal Health Trust (AHT), Newmarket, Suffolk. This investigation is on-going.

Dog owners who have walked their dog in Fordingbridge and the surrounding area since the beginning of 2013 (even if their dog has not been affected) are urged to take part in an online survey, which may help in the on-going investigations. The questionnaire is now available at www.aht.org.uk/newforestdogdeaths or http://www.andersonmoores.com/ Dog owners who have walked in other areas of the New Forest are also welcome to complete the questionnaire.

Testing to date inconclusive:

  • Heavy metal testing on tissue from the affected patients and the soil has been negative
  • Tests for organic and inorganic chemicals in the water have also been negative.
  • Many bacterial causes have also been excluded
  • Tissue samples continue to be examined by specialist human and veterinary pathologists to see if any more clues can be obtained
  • Testing is on-going in the hope of finding the underlying cause, with results of viral tests expected in another two months (although a viral cause is considered unlikely).

Latest update from the Forestry Commission

10 April 2013

Having undertaken many tests and following on-site investigations, the Forestry Commission still do not know what is responsible for the incidents of dogs falling ill and dying after walking in areas of the New Forest – it could be something in the environment or it may be something not related to the Forest.

We continue to work with other organisations including the Environment Agency, New Forest District Council and veterinary specialists to try and find the cause of the illness.

The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day.We would ask owners to be vigilant, and to contact their vet if they have any concerns about their dogs.

Testing-to-date inconclusive:

We wanted to provide more information on what has been excluded by further testing in the dogs with acute kidney failure, and from tests conducted in the area surrounding Ogdens in the New Forest, where the majority of cases were reported:

  • Heavy metal testing on tissue from the affected patients and the soil has been negative
  • Tests for organic and inorganic chemicals in the water has also been negative
  • Phosphorous – water samples taken a month ago proved negative

  • Many bacterial causes have also been excluded
  • Tissue samples continue to be examined by specialist human and veterinary pathologists to see if any more clues can be obtained

Investigation and online questionnaire:

Testing is on-going in the hope of finding the underlying cause, with results of viral tests expected in another two months (although a viral cause is considered unlikely).

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Hampshire have launched an investigation in collaboration with Forest Veterinary Clinic, Fordingbridge, with the assistance of the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

Of the dogs taken ill/deaths to date, all those within the New Forest had previously been within the same area (Ogdens), and all have been walked with other dogs that did not succumb.

If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog’s leg or face anywhere up to seven days after walking in the New Forest area then you should seek veterinary attention. Additionally if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.

Latest case:

Last week (commencing 1 April), a dog was taken ill and died following a walk in the Smugglers Road-Picket Post-Vereley area (between Burley and the A31).

Symptoms were similar (but have yet to be confirmed from tests) to recent incidents of dogs falling ill and dying after walking in the Ogden’s area of the New Forest.

Local vets, specialist laboratories, The Forestry Commission, The Environment Agency and New Forest District Council continue to co-operate in working to find the cause of the illness.

Who to contact:

Should members of the public have any information that they believe would help with this investigation please email: enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 023 8028 3141.

For the latest information and updates visit the Forestry Commission website.

Statement from the Forestry Commission

10 April 2013

Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Hampshire have launched an investigation in collaboration with Forest Veterinary Clinic, Fordingbridge, with the assistance of the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

An online questionnaire is now available to answer on the Animal Health Trust website or on Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists website and can be completed by anyone who has walked their dog in Fordingbridge and the surrounding area since the beginning of 2013, even if their dog has not been affected.

Should members of the public have any information that they believe would help with this investigation please email: enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 023 8028 3141.

For the latest information and updates visit the Forestry Commission website.

This investigation is ongoing.

Statement from the Forestry Commission

9 April 2013

On the week commencing 1 April, a dog was taken ill and died following a walk in the Smugglers Road-Picket Post-Vereley area (between Burley and the A31).

Symptoms were similar (but not yet confirmed) to the recent incidents of dogs falling ill and dying after walking in the Ogden’s area of the New Forest.

What should I be looking out for in my dog?

Of the dogs taken ill/deaths to date, most have been walked within the same area of the New Forest (Ogdens), and all have been walked with other dogs that did not fall ill.

If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog’s leg or face anywhere up to seven days after walking in the Forest then you should seek veterinary attention. Additionally if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek immediate advice from your local vet.

Should members of the public have any information that they believe would help with this investigation please email: enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 023 8028 3141.

For the latest information and updates visit the Forestry Commission website.

Joint statement from the Forestry Commission and New Forest District Council

26 March 2013

There have still been no new cases since 1 March. Six further possible cases occurring prior to 1 March have recently come to light, making a total of 12 possible cases to date.

Environmental and veterinary investigations are continuing as all practical steps are taken to establish the cause.

Local vets, specialist laboratories, The Forestry Commission, The Environment Agency and other authorities including New Forest District Council continue to co-operate in working to find the cause of the illness.

Should members of the public have any information that they believe would help with this investigation please email: enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or telephone 023 8028 3141.

Dog owners should be vigilant, and contact their vet if they have any concerns about the health of their dogs.

For the latest information and updates visit the Forestry Commission website.

Statement from the Forestry Commission

13 March 2013

To our knowledge and that of local vets, there have been no further cases of dogs being taken ill in the area in the past week.

Laboratory tests are on-going and results could take some weeks; tests include those for toxins, bacteria and viruses.

If you have any information that you believe is helpful, please contact the Forestry Commission on enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk.

For the latest information and updates visit the Forestry Commission website.

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