Severe illness in dogs in Norway - update 11 September

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute-NVI, together with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, private veterinarians and many interested citizens, continues to work on clarifying the reasons behind the recent acute mortality in dogs in Norway.

As previously reported, Providencia alcalifaciens and Clostridium perfringens continue to be a regular finding in dead dogs with haemorrhagic gastroenteritis delivered to NVI for necropsy. Both bacteria can be associated to episodes of diarrhoea in both animals and humans.

NVI is currently working in characterizing the Providencia alcalifaciens bacteria isolates found in these dead animals, but also analysing healthy animals for the presence of the same bacteria. This will provide important information to help clarify whether Providencia alcalifaciens is associated with the disease. Additionally, this will help to determine whether the current cases are part of an outbreak, as opposed to distinct individual episodes occurring over a short period of time.

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 5 more due to arrive tomorrow September 12th.

NVI continues to perform additional diagnostic tests to identify other possible causes of disease in the affected dogs. Based on current results several causes have already been ruled out (e.g. poisoning by rodenticides, intoxication with algae toxins, tularemia, salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis). Results for viral pathogens are expected later this week.

Non-infectious origins cannot be ruled out at this point. The ongoing collection of data, via a survey distributed to more than 2000 veterinarian practitioners in Norway, will provide essential information (e.g. movement of animals, food habits, previous episodes of disease etc..) to help clarify the origin of this increased mortality.

Ongoing epidemiological investigations have revealed that from the 60 recently reported cases of dogs with acute bloody diarrhoea and vomiting, 46 have already recovered. Collected data also shows that in situations where several dogs are living together, only one dog has become sick in most of the cases. This may indicate that this disease, if caused by an infectious agent, may present a low risk of transmission between animals.

There continues to be no reports of increased occurrence of similar cases in neighbouring countries and no evidence of transmission to humans.

NVI continues to recommend for dog owners to observe the indications provided by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

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