TICKS, HARVEST MITES, SEASONAL CANINE ILLNESS


New lead in fight against Seasonal Canine Illness

Lincolnshire residents are being told to be aware of Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) in their pets after a number of dogs have fallen seriously ill.

August to November is the season for ' Seasonal Canine Illness'.

This mysterious disease affects dogs who have been walking in woodland in the East Midlands and East Anglia, generally between the months of August to November. Although it is not known exactly what causes the illness theories include toxic effects from blue-green algae, non-native plants, bracken spores, fungi, ticks and harvest mites. The most common clinical signs are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy.

If you suspect your dog is showing any of these signs then please contact your vet immediately. Other signs are Tummy (abdominal) pain, Loss of appetite, Shaking or trembling, High temperature (fever).

Seasonal Canine Illness can affect dogs of any size, shape or sex and causes dogs to deteriorate very quickly, and in a small number of cases cause death. If your dog suffers from sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy shortly after walking in woods please contact your vet immediately.

The Animal Health Trust is investigating the causes of Seasonal Canine Illness by focusing on five study sites.  If you have walked your dog in Sandringham Estate or Thetford Forest, Norfolk, Sherwood Forest or Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire or Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, please complete the Animal Health Trust online survey regardless of whether your dog has been ill or not. More than 900 questionnaires have been returned so far. Of these, 217 (23%) were from dogs that were taken ill. Out of all the dogs surveyed that have become ill, only 15 have died.

Feral ticks can also use humans as their host and have been known to transmit diseases such as Lyme disease. Ticks can detect human or animal activity and will hold out their first pair of legs alongside a path and wait for a host they can latch onto. If you are walking through woodland or places with long grasses be sure to keep your arms and legs covered and walk in the center of paths so grasses don’t brush against you. If you do find a tick on you, the best way to remove it is to grasp it with tweezers and pull firmly up without twisting. Do not attempt to burn it with a match. If you develop a rash or fever within weeks of removing the tick seek medical advice.  

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Actual case - A 6yr old Cocker Spainel was taken into a veterinary surgery at the beginning of September and presented with acute lethargy, shaking and a tense abdomen. A few hours before she had been out shooting in a wooded area. Soon after admission she began to vomit and was therefore put onto intravenous fluids, which she stayed on for one week. Blood samples and other tests were mostly normal. Upon closer examination she was found to be covered in 100's of Harvest Mites, which are identified as small orange dots and are often found between the toes. On this dog they were everywhere! We recommend you check you dog after walks at this time of year. Frontline spray is the best treatment to kill these mites. We believe this to be a case of Seasonal Canine Illness of which the cause is still unknown but has been linked to Harvest Mites. The dog is gradually making a full recovery but if she was not treated it could have been fatal.
Please get your dog checked out by a veterinary surgeon if you are at all worried.

 

LYME DISEASE

Lyme Disease is more of a problem in certain areas than others, with moorland regions ranging from the New Forest to the Scottish Highlands in the UK being especially hazardous. This is where ticks are likely to be most numerous, as they will survive well here, hidden in the dense vegetation, even during a dry summer.

Ticks hatch from eggs into larvae, and then into nymphs, which are equally hard to spot because of their small size, measuring just 1mm (0.03in) or so in length. They then become recognisable adult ticks, with the whole life cycle taking several years. 

Ticks can acquire the infection early in life from wild animals, particularly deer of different species. They then drop off and then seeking a new host, which is when dogs are at risk.