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04th Feb 2022

Mystery dog illness plaguing Britain could be coronavirus, experts say

Steve Hopkins

Hundreds of dogs have been falling ill across the UK in recent weeks

A mystery illness that makes dogs sick has been spreading across the UK in recent weeks – and now some experts have said it could be coronavirus.

Pet owners were put on alert last month after hundreds of dogs fell ill following walks on beaches, with many cases being reported in Leeds and Kirklees.

Anecdotal reports – cited last month by publishers, including Chronicle Live – suggested that the number of affected animals in Yorkshire and the North East alone had topped 1,000.

Symptoms of the mystery illness include severe vomiting and diarrhoea and vets had initially feared polluted sea water around the UK could be to blame. Now, experts say it many be a type of coronavirus.

Professor Alan Radford, an expert in veterinary health informatics at the University of Liverpool, has been investigating the matter as part of a specialist team headed by the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET).

Their research suggests that levels of disease have been higher than expected for three weeks in Yorkshire which has experienced an official “outbreak”, the Mirror reported.

Radford said: “In other regions, the increases we have seen so far look more like normal seasonal variation.

“However, such signals can change quickly and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

Radford said one of the top candidates for the infection may be Canine Enteric Coronavirus (CEC), but investigations are ongoing.

CEC bears no relation to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid, and does not pose a risk to people, the Mirror reported.

CEC has been around far longer than covid and historically has only produced a relatively mild illness in dogs, despite affecting several thousand a year globally.