Alabama Rot dog deaths: 'More information needed'

Bodhi Image copyright Steve Kirwan
Image caption Bodhi was put down after failing to respond to treatment and suffering severe kidney failure

A dog owner whose pet was the latest victim to die from from "Alabama Rot" says more needs to be done to inform owners of the risks.

Steve Kirwan, of Lyndhurst, Hampshire, believes his Labrador-collie cross developed symptoms after a walk in the Whitefield Moor area of the New Forest.

Bodhi, three, died of kidney failure in February, two weeks after becoming ill.

The cause of the disease, which has killed 24 dogs in the UK since 2012, remains unknown.

Between November 2012 and March last year there were 12 confirmed cases - five in the New Forest - and two unconfirmed cases, according to the Forestry Commission.

Legs dragging

Since December last year there have been another 12 cases. Six of those were in the New Forest.

Tests are still taking place on a further 22 suspected cases of the disease.

The ones outside Hampshire were in Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Monmouthshire, Dorset, Shropshire, Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham.

The Forestry Commission has launched a poster campaign in 29 of the New Forest's car parks warning dog owners to be vigilant.

But Mr Kirwan said: "I don't think it's enough.

"There's a number of car parks in the New Forest, far more than 29.

"I think the coverage needs to be right across the forest, because there is a real concentration in the New Forest as [part of the] national picture."

Mr Kirwan said Bodhi never had any lesions, but was dragging his back legs.

From his other symptoms vets suspected it was Alabama Rot but he did not respond to treatment and had to be put to sleep.

'Will keep looking'

The investigation into the exact cause is being led by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, in Hursley, near Winchester, who are working with the Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Suffolk-based Animal Health Trust and local vets.

David Walker, from Anderson Moores, said: "There's huge amounts of research ongoing, multiple different avenues, but at this stage we are no closer to knowing what the trigger is.

"Research is going to continue but there is the prospect that we could research this disease for five, ten years and not find the underlying cause.

"But that doesn't mean we're not going to keep looking."

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