The body responsible for ensuring food safety in Norway has issued a statement calling on dog owners to exercise extreme caution in the face of the as yet unknown and unexplained disease that has killed more than 20 dogs and may have affected some 200 in the past month. Despite the fact that autopsies have not been conducted, and fearing that the disease is contagious, the country’s authorities have recommended restricting close contact between dogs as much as possible and keeping dogs on a leash at all times to keep them under control.
The first cases occurred in and around Oslo but incidents have since emerged in Bergen and other areas of Norway. Symptoms include vomiting, bloody diarrhea and lethargy. And the deaths are almost fulminating, happening within 24 hours in most cases.
All of the dogs that have died had similar signs of severe intestinal disease, with blood content in the small intestine, according to the Norwegian Veterinary Institute. Still, the reason for the death has not been determined, so authorities are still looking for possible causes, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.
One of the hypotheses is that it could have something to do with the wild mushrooms that have proliferated this year but this too has not been proven.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority, together with the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, will continue to work on mapping the disease outbreak with information from autopsies, samples from sick dogs and obtaining detailed information from relevant dog owners. An online questionnaire has been established and all Norwegian veterinarians can use it to record the information they collect. For the time being, the advice from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority on restricting close contact between dogs remains valid.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has not been notified of cases of diseases with similar symptoms in other animal species, and so far, there is no indication that this is anything that could infect humans.