Mystery ‘vomiting virus’ making dogs in Greater Manchester sick could be connected to coronavirus


There has been a surge in cases of a dog disease in Oldham, Rochdale, and Bury — but no one can nail down its exact cause.

A wave of infections across the North — including Yorkshire and Lancashire — has seen some vets introduce new measures to stop the spread of gastrointestinal (GI) disease.

Studies into the disease, sometimes called vomiting virus, have identified an ‘outbreak’ in Yorkshire, and have found one trend in preliminary research.

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That is the presence of canine coronavirus in the poorly pooches, but researchers say it is ‘premature’ to attribute the rise in the disease to the virus.

“Real-time data from collaborating laboratories suggest existing pathogens like parvovirus are not involved in these increases,” an update from the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) at the University of Liverpool, the body tracking cases, said.

The February 16 statement added: “However, we have previously shown that canine enteric coronavirus (CECoV) is more likely to be found in samples submitted for testing during winter, and this is the same this year.

“Although it is tempting to speculate on a role for CECoV in the current increased cases of GI disease, that would be premature based on our current data.”

Figures from SAVSNET show that Bury, Oldham, and Rochdale vets are seeing 30.48 appointments concerning GI disease in every 1,000 vet consultations.

The figure is 24.26 in Manchester, and 18.16 in Bolton and Wigan.

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In Yorkshire, where an outbreak has been declared, the numbers are around the 53 range.

However, vets are urging owners in Greater Manchester to remain calm despite the spread of the bug.

“While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases that are being reported in areas across the UK are likely part of a normal seasonal spike that vets tend to see during the colder months,” Vets Now medical director, Mandisa Greene, which has a branch in Whitefield, said.

“Further testing is currently ongoing to be sure and updates will be provided when the data is known.

“Close contact with affected dogs is the main way that gastro bugs are transmitted so it’s wise to be more cautious around other dogs at the moment in areas of the country where the bug is more prevalent.

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“If your dog is showing symptoms of gastroenteritis call your vet or, if out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic immediately.”

Although the disease can be fatal in rare circumstances, experts say the vast majority of cases are ‘mild’.

“We are aware of a recent spike in cases of dogs falling ill from gastroenteritis-like symptoms in several parts of the UK,” British Veterinary Association president, Justine Shotton, added. “Vets see gastroenteritis cases in dogs relatively commonly in practice and the vast majority are mild, with the animals just needing time or some supportive care to make a full recovery.

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“Sadly, in very rare situations, it can lead to secondary complications or even death.

“At this time, we can’t speculate on what might be causing the symptoms in these cases. While pet owners are understandably worried, in most instances the spike may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets see during the colder months.

“Our advice to concerned owners is to contact their local vet for prompt treatment if their dog shows any signs of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhoea.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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