Are mites responsible for mystery illness which has killed dogs walked at Sandringham and Thetford Forest?
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Dog owners who walk their pets on the Queen's Norfolk estate are being invited to take part in a pilot study to find the cause of a mystery illness which has killed hundreds of animals.
Owners are being offered free samples of a spray which combats harvest mites. Vets at the Animal health trust charity, which has been investigating Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) for the last three years, believe the bugs may be linked with the mystery disease, which makes dogs become ill and in some cases die.
Cases of SCI are usually seen from August to November. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy within 24 to 72 hours of being walked walking in woodland.
Over the last three years hundreds of animals have become ill after being walked in woods at Sandringham country park, Thetford Forest and other beauty spots around the country. This year, there have been 49 cases.
Now the trust has offered owners walking their dogs at Sandringham free samples of a spray called Fipronil, via a voucher which they can redeem at their vets.
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Charlotte Robin, the trust's SCI research co-ordinator, said: 'To enable us to eliminate Harvest mites as a potential cause of SCI, we are advising dog owners to treat their dogs with a Fipronil spray directly before walking in woodlands.
'Dog owners need to be aware that using fipronil spray may not protect their dog from SCI, but it could protect them from Harvest mites and other external parasites. What we are trying to do with this study is eliminate the Harvest mite and other external parasites from our enquiries.
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'Clearly if Harvest mites are not causing SCI then using fipronil spray is not going to stop dogs from contracting SCI, so please remain vigilant for the clinical signs in your dog and contact your vet immediately for advice if you suspect something is wrong.'
Click here for details on how to register to take part in the pilot study.