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Seasonal Canine Illness cases peak in the autumn.  The presenting signs are common and non-specific.  Whist outcomes are usually favourable, when ignored SCI cases can lead to serious illness – are your staff and clients aware?

Encourage clients to present cases early and help keep SCI in the minds of your clinical staff, with our new and informative video.

SCI – What is it?

Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI), also called Canine Seasonal Illness in some texts, is a rare but important disease occurring during autumn, with cases peaking in September.  First detected on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk in 2010, the East remains a higher-risk area, but cases are also seen elsewhere.  Whilst reported figures for SCI have dropped in number, there is still a risk.  Vets in all areas should stay alert for the clinical signs, as outcomes are improved by early intervention and treatment. 

Transferring the message to clients, that vomiting and diarrhoea cases should be seen promptly, is likely to improve prognosis for SCI cases – as well as for other disease presenting in a similar fashion.

Risk factors for SCI specifically include having walked in a woodland area within 72hours of vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy occurring.  The presence of harvest mites (Neotrombicula autumnalis) on the dog is also an associated sign, but the direct link between mites and cases of SCI has not been proven.  The Animal Health Trust was heading up this research, but following its closure, progress has been limited.  Early hypotheses that considered wild mushrooms, chemicals, natural flora, and contaminated water as potential causes, have been dismissed. 

SCI – What are the symptoms?

Dogs with SCI tend to present with vomiting, and commonly lethargy and diarrhoea.  Other clinical signs may include abdominal pain, inappetence, fever and muscle tremors.  Of course, these clinical signs are not disease-specific, so having SCI on your differentials list is important. 

Including our SCI video on your autumn playlist will help clients to ask appropriate questions in the consulting room and is a chance to refresh clinical staff’s awareness of the condition. 

Inform your waiting clients

Alerting clients to the potential risk of harvest mites is also key to prevention.  This is a great way to remind clients about the importance of ectoparasite treatment in general – and enables you to refresh your protocols as autumn is approaching.  Fipronil spray has been used, off-label, as a topical preventative for the little orange mites, so you may want to increase stock on your shelves.

Diagnosis can be difficult

Whilst a definitive diagnosis of SCI remains difficult, eliminating other causes of gastrointestinal signs whilst supporting the patient symptomatically, is the main strategy. Pre-preparing clients before the consultation that there is no ‘magic pill’ and that tests will likely precede treatment, is important for managing clients’ expectations.  Our video can help start that process.  

Clients may well have read about SCI online and may come to you with concerns – presenting facts about the disease in an easily-absorbed way, through a watchable and informative video on your waiting room TV, can help allay exaggerated fears promoted by negatively-biased online content.

As a Vet Channel subscriber – you can view the video by logging into your account and searching for Seasonal Canine Illness.