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Lungworm risk to dogs

A DEADLY lung disease transmitted through fox droppings is putting the canine population of Croydon at risk.

Surrey vets are urging dog owners to get their pets wormed after seeing several cases of lung worm in the past two years - three of which have been fatal.

Rumours have been circulating among the town's dog owners to avoid Lloyd Park, Kenley and Addiscombe, where the disease is thought to be most widespread.

Dean Braid-Lewis, of Addiscombe Road Veterinary Centre, said: ‘It has been more prevalent in the last five years, certainly in the last two years, because people are not worming their dogs. ‘It needs to be explained to owners that wherever a fox has defecated, their dog is at risk.’
Lungworm is a rare disease dogs can pick up by contact with fox faeces. Symptoms include lethargy, exercise intolerance and a chronic cough.

Mr Braid-Lewis said his surgery had treated three dogs which died from the disease in the last two years, while there were five other cases where the symptoms were spotted early enough for treatment.

A company that manufactures worm powder has told him that Croydon is one of two UK hotspots, along with Southampton.

He said: ‘Virbac, the company that makes the worm powder, assumes it is because Southampton is a point of entry into the country.

‘Croydon is not a point of entry, but we have a very high concentration of urban foxes and it seems to be higher than other places in London because Croydon is just in the periphery of the rural area. It seems to be the crossover between rural and urban fox populations.’

Mr Braid-Lewis said dog owners had nothing to worry about if their pet was wormed regularly – usually every three months - and that the treatment was relatively inexpensive.

Other veterinary surgeries in the area said they had also had an unusual number of cases.

Elaine Pendlebury, who works at the Croydon branch of the PDSA, on Hurst Road, South Croydon, said they had one confirmed case and a number of suspected cases this year alone.

Ashton Veterinary Surgery, Lower Addiscombe Road, confirmed that they have identified three cases of the disease this year and have posters up warning dog owners of the dangers.