Dog owners in Hampshire warned about mystery disease killing canines in the New Forest

 

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure for a big surprise – especially if you have dogs.

Forestry Commission signs went up across the New Forest in Hampshire today warning owners of a mystery disease that has claimed the lives of at least a dozen four-legged friends in the last year and with two new cases confirmed this month it shows no sign of disappearing.

Experts are flummoxed and the Commission has joined forces with local vets, specialist laboratories, the Environment Agency and Animal Health Trust to identify the disease and find a cure. Vets say the illness – that can lead to kidney failure – is similar to "Alabama Rot", first seen in the United States in the 1980s and thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. coli bacteria. Alabama Rot has been associated with greyhounds, but the new strain has affected several breeds.

The source is unknown and owners told the Independent their best guess scenarios for the source were anything from contaminated water to munition dumps.

Wilverley Plain is home to one of the most popular areas for dog walkers in the New Forest and where some of the warning signs have been placed because one of this month’s fatalities regularly walked here. Dog owners are advised to look out for wounds or lesions on the limbs or face 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,” the sign adds.

Rohan Glynn has not been put off and was out with his two Dalmatians and a German Pointer this afternoon, despite one of his friends losing his dog to the mystery disease last year.

He said: “My friend ended up taking his dog to Milton Keynes to a see a specialist vet surgeon it was so ill, but there was nothing that could be done. They tested it for everything but just couldn’t work out what had caused it.

“There are all sorts of theories doing the rounds: that the disease is water-borne, or it’s a fungal infection or even that the dogs are catching something from old World War Two munitions that have seeped into the ground. Nobody really knows.”

Dogwalker Deborah Owen with Samson, a 3-year-old Rough Collie (Jamie Lorriman/Solent) Dogwalker Deborah Owen with Samson, a 3-year-old Rough Collie (Jamie Lorriman/Solent)
Mr Glynn, originally from Ballymena, north Belfast, now living in nearby Burley, said he was not going to alter his routine or be more cautious. “You have to take them out somewhere, don’t you? The great thing about Wilverley is that you can let them off the leash and they enjoy themselves. I don’t want to have to muzzle them every time we come here.”

About six miles away Patrick and Deborah Randall were enjoying a picnic alone at the Anderwood Car Park near Lyndhurst with Samson, their Rough Collie, but were not too fazed by the warning signs elsewhere.

“You get so many people taking their dogs to Wilverley so we enjoy coming somewhere which is much quieter,” Mr Randall said. “We’re not worried though. We had a newsletter from our vet and it didn’t mention anything about the disease nor anything about not walking your dog in the New Forest.”

Mrs Randall speculated the disease may even be spreading from dog fouling. “There is one area near here where for the first 100 yards from the car park you feel like you’re in It’s a Knockout, trying to avoid all the mess.”

The sign warning dog walkers (Jamie Lorriman/Solent) The sign warning dog walkers (Jamie Lorriman/Solent) The Forestry Commission said the reported cases represent “an extremely small proportion of the many hundreds of dogs that are exercised in the New Forest every day and it is likely that this syndrome is extremely rare”. It advises anyone who think their dog may have fallen ill to contact the Forest Veterinary Clinic or Anderson Moores, the specialist vets from Hursley, near Winchester, who are specialising in treating the disease.

David Walker, from Anderson Moores, advised all owners to seek help within 24 to 48 hours.

He said: “The dogs that have pulled through seem to be the ones that have presented earlier on in the disease course. However, that doesn’t hold true for all the patients and dogs seem to be affected to varying degrees.”

Some owners are worried enough to change their routine. Sue and Terry Jenvey were out before lunch in Knightwood Oak, near Bolderwood, with Prince, their nine-year-old Doberman.

The couple, from Hordle, said they no longer went walking near Wilverton or any of the areas where reports have emerged of dogs falling ill.

Retired carpenter and joiner Mr Jenvey, 72, said: “We’ve always liked coming to Knightwood because of the gravel paths, but we’re a bit more careful where we go now because of what’s happened.”

Mrs Jenvey, 69, who works in the New Forest Visitor Centre, added: “We first heard about something happening to dogs over a year ago and didn’t think too much about it. It sounds like it is getting much more serious now, though.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
News
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing