Ticks, Harvest Mites and Seasonal Canine Illness

Seasonal Canine Illness strikes in AutumnIt’s Seasonal Canine Illness season. This mysterious disease affects dogs who have been walking in woodland in the East Midlands and East Anglia, generally between the months of August and 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.

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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