A mysterious disease has struck dozens of dogs in Norway, killing at least 25 and prompting authorities to warn owners to keep their pets ahead and away from other canines until the cause is established.
Ten dogs fell ill on Saturday and Sunday, the National Food Safety Authority said, four of which have died. Although most cases occurred in the capital, Oslo, the disease was reported in 14 of the country's 18 counties, including the far north.
According to the Swedish newspaper GT, a dog in Sweden was also being treated at a veterinary hospital after appearing at a show in the Norwegian city of Trondheim last week. All dog shows in Norway have been canceled this weekend.
The Norwegian Kennel Club said owners were so concerned about the spread of the disease over the weekend that their website fell under the strain of demands for information. It is estimated that between 500.000 and 600.000 dogs in Norway.
The undiagnosed disease was clearly "very serious for dogs," food safety authority spokeswoman Ole-Herman Tronerud told public broadcaster NRK. "But we still don't know if this is contagious or just a series of individual cases."
Norwegian Veterinary Institute's director of emergency and safety, Jorun Jarp, said it was “naturally alarming to have healthy Norwegian dogs dying so quickly. This is a very special situation; I haven't been involved in anything like that before. “
The institute said it ruled out salmonella and rat poison, and neither does it believe the disease - which causes severe vomiting and acute bloody diarrhea - is due to something in dog food.
"We have seen that many different types of feed have been used on autopsied dogs and we have no reason to believe that it is the cause of a specific feed," Jarp said. “We are investigating possible viral, bacterial, fungal and parasitic causes.”
A veterinary pathologist, Hannah Jørgensen, told broadcasting authorities that they were working systematically and as quickly as possible, but the work was "difficult because so far we have not found any obvious common characteristics in our laboratory analyzes."
The dogs that got sick and died came from “many different places in the country and are drinking and eating different things,” said Jørgensen. "At the moment, we have no clear test results and therefore no firm conclusions."