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Charity issues warning over mystery fatal dog illness

A veterinary charity is warning dog owners to watch for signs of a mystery illness that could kill their pets.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) said it was aware of new cases of Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) across Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk.

During autumn 2009 and 2010, several dogs which had been walked in woodlands suddenly became ill and some died.

The AHT is investigating the illness and focussing on four previously affected sites.

They are the Sandringham Estate and Thetford Forest in Norfolk and Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

Dog owners who have walked their pets at any of the sites since 1 August are being asked to complete a questionnaire, even if their dogs were not taken ill.

Signs of the illness include vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy.

While these are fairly common and non-specific, it is their onset within only a few hours of dogs walking in woodlands that is distinctive.

'Getting closer'

The charity is advising any dog owners who see these signs in their pet to contact a vet immediately.

Richard Newton of the AHT said: "We want to arm dog owners with as much information as we can.

"Unfortunately we are looking for a small needle in a very large hay stack so this could take some time.

"Because dog owners, or vets treating the animals, have contacted us as soon as the dogs have been taken ill, we've been able to identify specific areas where these dogs have been walked.

"This is helping to focus our investigation on smaller geographical areas, hopefully, meaning that we're getting closer to the culprit."

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