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Warning after disease kills 16 dogs

Two dogs looking up23/11/13

By Will Roberts

Veterinary experts have warned pet owners to be on the lookout for symptoms of a disease which has killed 16 dogs in the past year.

The dogs which have died from the disease suffer lesions on the lower legs followed by kidney failure between two and seven days later.

Experts believe the symptoms are similar to that of Alabama rot, which killed animals in the USA in the 1980s.

Now posters are being placed around the New Forest in Hampshire, where nine cases of the disease have been reported.

'Seek early veterinary attention'

Dogs have died all over the country though, from County Durham to Cornwall and from Surrey to Worcestershire.

Vet David Walker said Alabama rot was caused by toxins from the E. coli bacteria but this had not yet been traced in the UK.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Walker, from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Hursley, near Winchester, said: "The owners are taking dogs to the vets then the signs of kidney failure develop two to seven days later.

"The advice I would give to the pet-owning general public is if you see a wound on your dog's leg, where you might ordinarily leave that for 12 to 24 hours, the advice would be to take your dog to the vets.

"Most vets are now aware of the condition so seek early veterinary attention."

Warning notices

A Forestry Commission spokesman said investigations were still ongoing to determine the cause of the deaths and that signs had been put up to raise awareness of the symptoms.

He said: "There have been a few as yet unexplained incidents in the New Forest and the Forestry Commission is working closely with vets and putting up notices to inform the public.

"Owners should always keep their dogs under close control and be aware of anything they may pick up, chew or eat in a woodland area.

"If their dog becomes ill they should contact a vet as soon as possible with as much information as they can."

The signs being placed around the New Forest reads: "Between December 2012 and April 2013, a spate of dog deaths in the New Forest prompted an investigation into the mystery dog illness.

"Dog owners are advised to look out for wounds or lesions on the limbs or face of their dog which will not heal.

"Affected dogs then go on to develop signs of severe depression, loss of appetite and vomiting, quickly accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys."

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