Severe illness in dogs in Norway

An increased number of cases of severe haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract) has led to the death of several dogs in Norway in the last weeks.

In this video, researcher Hannah Joan Jørgensen at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, explains the status so far and how the institute is working in order to try to find the cause of the dog disease. 

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute is working around the clock with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority and several other institutions in Norway and abroad to identify the cause of this disease in dogs, but definitive results are not yet available.

Current data indicates that more than 20 dogs with similar symptoms have died so far in several parts of the country. However, it is not confirmed that all these cases are the same disease. Similar symptoms have further been reported in more than 60 other dogs.

Reports of dogs suddenly suffering from this acute bloody diarrhea, vomiting and generally reduced condition were first registered in the Oslo area. Additional cases with similar symptoms have now been reported in several counties: Nordland, Vestfold, Aust-Agder, Hordaland, Møre og Romsdal, Trøndelag, Buskerud, Hedmark, Rogaland, Østfold, Sogn og Fjordane, Telemark and Akershus.

How we work and what we know

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute is working closely together with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (Norwegian Veterinary College), and several of the large veterinary clinics to gather information on epidemiology, clinical course, post mortem examinations and laboratory analyses in order to map the disease, and search for possible explanations. 

Necropsies performed in 10 dogs have revealed pathological signs of severe hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Bacteriological investigations have identified an increased number of Clostridium perfringens in the gut, together with another bacteria Providencia alcalifaciens. Both bacteria are known to cause diarrhea in a variety of animals and humans. Tissue samples, stomach and gut content from dead dogs and faeces from sick dogs are currently under investigation for the presence of virus, fungi, toxins and other possible causative agents.

In dogs with a fatal outcome, the clinical signs have been sudden with death occurring within 24 hours in many cases.

So far,  results seem to rule out poisoning (e.g. by rodenticides), but other types of intoxications, like natural toxins, cannot yet not totally excluded. Laboratory results have found no evidence of Salmonella or Campylobacter (bacteria commonly associated to gastroenteritis episodes). Data collection for epidemiological investigations are ongoing.

So far, it has not been confirmed that this disease transmits between dogs, and the source of Providencia alcalifaciens has not yet been identified.

To our knowledge there have been no reports of similar incidents in neighbouring Scandinavian countries.   

Official authorities advices for dog owners

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has issued the following advices to dog owners:

  • Restrict close contact with other dogs.
  • Do not let the dog greet other dogs on tour.
  • Avoid the dog sniffing in areas where other dogs have been.
  • If you notice bloody or sputtering diarrhoea, vomiting and rapidly deterioration of the general condition of your dog, go to the veterinary clinic at once.
  • Call your veterinarian before taking your dog with you to the clinic.
  • Follow the vaccine recommendations.

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