Mystery dog deaths in the New Forest

dogs, Rhinefield

Published Thursday 22 August 2013

August update from the Forestry Commission

We have been made aware of the death through kidney failure of a dog walked in the Linwood area of the New Forest around 15 August. The animal showed similar symptoms to those presented earlier this year in the New Forest, Surrey and Worcestershire.

Anderson Moores, the veterinary specialists who treated the dog cannot confirm that this death is identical to those experienced in March/April, and expect this case to remain unconfirmed.

We would urge anybody with information on suspected cases on Forestry Commission land to make us aware of the details by contacting us at:enquiries.southern@forestry.gsi.gov.uk or by telephone on: 023 8028 3141.

We continue to work closely with other agencies and the veterinary specialists to try to identify the cause.

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.

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 or elsewhere, 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.

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

Background

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 were then no new cases anywhere in the New Forest until recent unconfirmed incidents (July/August).

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 September (although a viral cause is considered unlikely).

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 at www.aht.org.uk/newforestdogdeaths  or www.andersonmoores.com.

Dog owners who have walked in other areas of the New Forest are also welcome to complete the questionnaire.

Useful links

www.andersonmoores.com/vet/news - Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists
www.aht.org.uk - Animal Health Trust UK

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