Rendlesham Forest: Animal Health Trust expected to produce results of seasonal canine illness study in January

Rendlesham Forest is one of five key sites prone to seasonal canine illness Rendlesham Forest is one of five key sites prone to seasonal canine illness

Andrew Hirst
Friday, December 6, 2013
6:05 PM

A study into the mysterious and deadly disease affecting dogs in East Anglia every autumn has drawn to close with results expected in the new year.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

The Animal Health Trust’s investigation is hoped to reveal the cause of seasonal canine illness (SCI) to help the hundred or so dogs struck down with the disease every year after visiting five key woodland sites in Suffolk, Norfolk and Nottinghamshire.

A spokesman for the charity said: “The study officially ended on November 22 and we’re still waiting for the data to be submitted from the participants – data analysis will begin once we have the information from them.”

A total of 20 pet owners signed up for the study which looked into possible links between SCI and harvest mites. Dog walkers were asked to spray their animal with fipronil, a treatment against the parasites, in the hope that it would also safeguard against SCI.

Before the study got under way earlier this year, SCI research co-ordinator at the trust Charlotte Robin explained that a number of reported cases were accompanied with harvest mite infestations.

“We cannot say for definite that travel or harvest mites are associated with causing SCI, but ensuring your dog has access to clean water and is protected from external parasites is all part of good dog ownership,” she added.

Suffolk vets with patients who regularly visited Rendlesham Forest – one of the key study areas – had previously described this year as being one of the worst on record.

Charles Bagnall, a partner at Orwell Vets, recorded more cases of SCI in a week than in the previous two years combined.

“We didn’t really see anything for a couple of years but this year seems to have been particularly bad,” he said.

“Whether it’s down to the weather conditions and the long dry summer, I’m not certain, but this appears to be the worst year on record.”

With no known cause for the disease, which causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy in its sufferers, vets have been only able to treat the symptoms by keeping patients hydrated and hoping they recover.

The conclusions from the study are expected to be published early in the new year.