Mysterious Canine Illness

Jessica Kennedy, Staff Writer

Over the last couple of weeks, almost two dozen dogs have died and around 100 more have fallen seriously ill in Norway. The Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) and other clinics have yet to find the specific cause relating the sicknesses in all these dogs.

The NVI is studying the symptoms and autopsies of the dogs, first eliminating common sicknesses and diseases and working on uncovering what exactly is causing these dogs to get so sick. In updates on its website, the NVI says it eliminated pathogens, parvovirus, and the Giardia and Cryptospodiridum parasites as possibilities. The NVI and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority have also been investigating pets’ food and water to see if there is anything inside either that could cause the canines to get sick, though so far they have found nothing to suggest the food is the cause of the acute disease.

The only regular findings in four of the dead animals are the Providencia alcalifaciens and the Clostridium perfringens bacteria. Despite this commonality, the NVI is not ruling out the possibility that this is just one sickness affecting the dogs. An update on its website says, “Acute episodes of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis are reported every year in dogs in Norway and abroad (but in lower numbers than in the last weeks). So far, about 30 dogs are reported to have died with symptoms fitting acute haemorrhagic gastroenteritis. NVI has received 10 animals for necropsy with five more due to arrive tomorrow September 12.”

Some symptoms the dogs have had include vomiting, severe diarrhea, bloody stools, and impaired general condition. These symptoms don’t seem to be contagious as there have been reports of many dogs living together and only one getting sick. Although, as of Sept. 13, the NVI doesn’t believe the sickness to be contagious, organizations are taking precautions to keep dogs away from areas populated with other dogs such as Norwegian Kennel Club’s cancellation of events.

The NVI also doesn’t believe pet owners in neighboring countries need to be worried about the acute disease reaching their dogs. The only case outside of Norway happened in Greater Gothenburg, Sweden. The dog was experiencing similar symptoms to the sick ones in Norway but began feeling better the next day. When a clinic manager at a Norwegian Veterinary hospital was asked if Swedish dog owners should be worried about the acute disease she said, “No. You should only use common sense. If you lived in the area where dogs died I would be worried and extra careful, but not otherwise.”

Norwegian dog owners have been taking extra precautions as advised by the NVI with their dogs’ health. Groups online tell each other to be apprehensive when their dogs approach another on a walk and to be quick and honest to their veterinarian if they’re worried their pet may carry the disease. All these groups are hoping the NVI can find the cause and a cure soon.

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