Suspicions are growing in the western Finnish region of South Ostrobothnia that a mysterious canine illness that has claimed the lives of up to 20 dogs in Norway over the past few days may have spread to the area. Norway's Food Safety Authority has been investigating the causes of an outbreak of vomiting and diarrhoea among approximately 40 dogs in the country.
The fears have been fuelled by a Facebook post written by a dog owner in the municipality of Teuva, near Kristinestad, detailing what happened to their two dogs over the past week.
According to the post, one of the owner's dogs was reported to be suffering from severe diarrhoea just over a week ago, but died before the vet arrived at the owner's home. Later last week, a second dog fell ill in the same way, but has now reportedly recovered.
The public Facebook update has since spread rapidly, leading to the Lillvet veterinary clinic in the city of Seinäjoki introducing special precautionary measures: which include keeping dogs in owners' cars during check in, minimising contact between dogs, and taking extra special care with regard to hygiene.
The Finnish Food Authority has reported receiving a number of inquiries related to the case in Teuva, but with very little confirmed information available at the moment the authority was not willing to comment in detail on the matter at this stage. Virva Valle, a senior inspector at the agency, did however suggest that the cause could be any number of acute illnesses, and added that the situation is being closely monitored.
Tarja Väisänen, a municipal veterinarian in Teuva, told Yle that she is aware of the dog owner's Facebook update, but no other similar cases have yet been reported in the area. Väisänen added that the Teuva area's weekly junior handler meetings have been cancelled as a precaution.
Väisänen agreed with Valle's statement that dogs can have many different types of diarrhoea and vomiting.
In Norway, more than 20 dogs are reported to have died of a disease whose origin is still being investigated. In a press release last Friday, the Finnish Food Authority recommended that dog owners avoid travelling to Norway at present.