CONCERNED dog owners are urging vigilance after several animals died in the borough from symptoms similar to those of the dreaded Alabama Rot.
Pets who have been walked in several open spaces between Leigh and Tyldesley have contracted the mysterious condition, which begins with dogs developing lesions on their paws and bodies before suffering vomiting, diarrhoea and possible kidney failure.
A veterinary practice in Leigh said it has seen four such cases in the past three weeks with three dogs dying from the illness, although there are no official results confirming whether it is Alabama Rot.
Tyldesley resident Gary Hallows, whose three-year-old cocker spaniel Sally is currently critically ill with kidney failure and being looked after by The Animal Trust in Bolton, said he is anxious to make people aware of the disease.
Mr Hallows, 55, said: “There can be sores on the feet, legs, chest and face, and when my dog got a sore on her foot my wife said she didn’t seem quite herself. The sickness then starts and it just carries on from there.
“I spoke to another resident who lives nearby and he told me his springer spaniel had taken ill 10 days ago and died within four days. I’m very concerned about it. If it isn’t Alabama Rot, then what is it?”
Mr Hallows and other dog owners believe the outbreak has started either in Lilford Woods or on the nearby green corridor along the site of an old railway line running close to the site of Fred Longworth High School.
Pet owners worried about the disease have now set up a page on Facebook to raise awareness and are trying to place signs around the areas they believe to pose the highest risk to residents taking their dogs for a walk.
My Pets’ Vets, on Twist Lane in Leigh, has now placed a statement on its Facebook page giving advice about the condition and saying four dogs with similar symptoms have now been seen at the surgery.
The statement reads: “This is not meant to scare anyone, just to make people aware of the current situation. We have seen four dogs with suspicious lesions on their lower limbs and in their mouths over the last few weeks, unfortunately three have gone on to develop kidney failure and could not be saved.
“All four dogs had been walked in and around Lilford Woods, along with other wooded areas. We do not have a definitive diagnosis of this disease as yet, and are awaiting test results which may provide further information.”
The practice said the disease did not appear to pass between dogs, and urged anyone concened about their pet to speak to a vet.
Alabama Rot has been known since the 1980s, when it was initially discovered in greyhounds in America. The recent outbreak of the similar condition began in the New Forest and has spread to several other areas of Britain.