Dog owners in the Kirkcaldy and Levenmouth areas of Fife are being warned to be vigilant of a new mystery virus when walking their pets in parks and beaches in the area.
And a local vet says that although there is as yet no evidence of the potentially killer virus, which has been causing dogs to suffer severe vomitting and diarrhoea, at Ravenscraig park and beach and Seafield beach areas, he would advise dog walkers to avoid the areas in the meantime until a cause has been established.
The new virus, similar to parvovirus, is not related to a recent outbreak of Alabama Rot reported elsewhere in the UK.
At least one dog has died and several others reported falling seriously ill with the new virus in the past week following walks on Seafield and Ravenscraig beach areas.
And, with warnings sweeping social media sites, local vets are warning people to remain vigilant for any signs of sickness in their pets.
Graham Dodds, a vet with Albavet, which has a branch in Kirkcaldy, said: “The reports we have received are very irregular and unfortunately there is, as yet, no consistent thread or common denominator that positively links the areas mentioned with the disease.
I would strongly recommend making sure dogs are up to date with vaccinationGraham Dodds, vet
“It would be impossible to base a diagnosis of any illness simply on the exposure of a patient to a geographic location, and I would be reluctant to say that taking your dog to these areas will definitely result in illness.
“The causal agent is unknown at the moment (virus, toxic exposure, bacteria etc). However, there are some highly pathogenic viruses circulating in the canine population. We are witnessing an up-rise in Canine Parvovirus infection. This causes very sudden onset diarrhoea and vomiting, extreme lethargy and very often results in death.
“It is a disease that can be prevented by vaccination, so if dogs have missed their booster vaccinations or if they have never been vaccinated, they are at much greater risk. Successful treatment relies on immediate veterinary attention and even then, the chances of survival are low.
“In the face of being unable to link recent cases with any specific pathogen or poison AS YET, I would strongly recommend making sure dogs are up to date with vaccination, in case it is Parovirus that is causing these signs, and I would avoid walking in the aforementioned areas for some time until we can establish more facts.”
One Kirkcaldy family which lost their beloved pet labrador to the virus, said the virus had struck very suddenly, with the dog suffering severe symptoms within hours of walking at Seafield beach. She died eight hours later, although another underlying medical problem was said to have exacerbated the situation.
And Karen Purves (43), from Main Street, West Wemyss told the Press her dog Kori Boy had had “a very lucky escape” after contracting the virus.
“My dad had been walking him on his usual walk at Ravenscraig Park at the weekend then along the coastal path and beach at West Wemyss on the Monday and Tuesday when, on the Tuesday night he became very sick,” she said.
“The next day he had terrible diarrhoea and was sick again, and by night time I was extremely concerned.
“I took him to the vet who examined him and by this time the virus had started attacking his organs and his heart was murmurring, so he put him on antibiotics and tablets for his heart.
“Over the next few days it was really touch and go and he was very poorly and unable to even keep down water, but eventually he began to improve and was drinking, and the vet gave me some nutritional supplement which I had to syringe into his mouth as often as possible.
“He is still very weak and walking around like a dog twice his age, but he is on the mend and I think we are lucky to still have him. His liver has also been affected by this horrible virus and he is on medication for that.
“I would say to any dog owner to keep an eye out for any symptoms of severe vomitting and diarrhoea and get advice from their vet as soon as possible if they do have any signs. Even if it’s just an upset tummy it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Grant Ward, head of area services with Fife Council, added: “We have been made aware of at least one dog dying and others becoming ill after being walked in the Ravenscraig/Dysart area but we’ve had no information about the cause of the problem.
“At the moment there is no obvious source for us to investigate but we will continue to monitor the situation.”