Pet owners are being warned to avoid two Fife beaches after a mystery virus killed one dog and made several others ill.
Sarah Murphy contacted The Courier after her labrador, which was walked twice daily at Seafield beach inKirkcaldy, suddenly started vomiting and died within eight hours last week.
The tragic incident comes amidsimilar reports of stricken dogs following walks at the town’s Ravenscraig beach and at nearby West Wemyss.
Sarah said: “The vets are still clueless as to the nature of the virus. Symptoms start with vomiting and diarrhoea and progress into organ failure.
“My dog died in the vets eight hours after presenting with symptoms.
“Most of the information gathered by local owners has been word of mouth. We are devastated by our loss,” she added.
Vets say they have not noticed a marked increase in deaths orsickness. However, with warnings sweeping social media, vets are urging dog owners to remain vigilant for any signs of sickness in their pets, with several advising dog walkers to avoid the areas in the meantime until a cause has been established.
It is not clear whether the incidents are linked to the killer canine parvovirus or are a new strain.
Graham Dodds, a vet with Albavet, which has a branch in Kirkcaldy, said: “The reports we have received are very irregular and unfortunately there is, as yet, no consistent thread or common denominator that positively links the areas mentioned with the disease.
“I would strongly recommendmaking sure dogs are up to date with vaccination.”
St Clair Vet group in Kirkcaldy said this was “sensible advice”. It advised dog walkers to avoid the affected areas until more is known.
“From St Clair’s point of view we had no cases over the weekend but will of course remain extra vigilant should any dogs in the practice look as if they may be showing symptoms,” a spokesperson said.
Grant Ward, head of area services with Fife Council, said: “We have been made aware of at least one dog dying and others becoming ill after being walked in the Ravenscraig/Dysart area but we’ve had no information about the cause of the problem.
“At the moment there is no obvious source for us to investigate but we will continue to monitor the situation.”Vaccinate to be safeVets have said the causal agent of this gastroenteritis condition is unknown.
However, there are some highly pathogenic viruses circulating in the canine population.
Vets say there has been a rise in canine parvovirus infection. This causes very sudden onset diarrhoea and vomiting, extreme lethargy and very often results in death.
Dogs do not need to come into direct contact with an infected dog to become ill they merely need to sniff around an area where an infected dog has passed on the bug, even days before, to develop symptoms.
Canine parvovirus is a disease that can be prevented by vaccination.
At Ravenscraig beach yesterday, Maria Murdock, 48, of Kirkcaldy, was on her daily walk with her doberman Blaze.
She said: “I’m down here every day. I’m not worried because Blaze has had his jabs.But there’s definitely been less folk down here over the past week.”