UPDATED: Norwegian food and animal authorities reported five new documented cases on Wednesday of the mysterious illness that has killed 26 dogs so far. State veterinarians now don’t think the acute illness is contagious among dogs, however, and Norway’s hunting season that involves lots of dogs was launched as usual.
All the new cases involved dogs suddenly falling ill with bloody diarrhea, vomiting and fatigue. Those are the same symptoms exhibited in the 26 dogs that have died quickly so far. The new cases were reported in Oslo, Telemark, Vest-Agder, Nordland and Finnmark in Northern Norway.
Hunting season goes on
Finnmark is where thousands of hunters and their dogs are gathering this week for the annual grouse hunting season, which has not been called off there or elsewhere in Norway. There’s a lot of money at stake for landowners and local communities who welcome visiting hunters year after year.
All hunters are being advised, however, to keep a close eye on their dogs, prevent them from associating with other dogs and keep them under control at all times. That may not be easy, as nearly 50,000 grouse hunters and their dogs head into scenic mountain plateau areas of Finnmark and elsewhere in Norway.
Doesn’t appear contagious after all
Veterinarians, meanwhile, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Wednesday that many of the symptoms of the recently sick dogs aren’t so different from a seasonal dog flu that hits every spring and autumn. They’re exploring the possibility that a strain of such a flu may simply be much more powerful this year.
Later on Wednesday, Norway’s food safety and animal authority Mattilsynet reported that in at least 60 documented cases, the disease has not spread from dog to dog and thus may not be contagious. It cited reports from families with two or more dogs in which one dog fell ill but not the others.
That still doesn’t explain why so many dogs have been dying over the past two weeks. The Veterinarian Institute was performing another autopsy Wednesday as the hunt went on for the source of the illness.