Vets save dog from mysterious illness

Vets used dialysis to save Alba the Labrador after she was struck down with a mystery illness

Vets used dialysis to save Alba the Labrador after she was struck down with a mystery illness

First published in News by

A DOG affected by a mystery toxin affecting pets in the New Forest has been saved after vets used dialysis to filter her blood.

Alba the 11-month-old Labrador was diagnosed with a mysterious illness that has been killing dogs around the country, and given just hours to live.

The toxin, now dubbed New Forest Syndrome, causes catastrophic kidney failure.

Initial symptoms include lesions on the legs or paws that won’t heal and it has been known to kill within days. Only a handful of dogs are known to have survived since an initial outbreak in the Fordingbridge area in 2012.

Vets at the Queen Mother Animal Hospital in Hertfordshire cured Alba by pumping her blood through a dialysis machine which filtered out the pathogens that were attacking her body.

The procedure, known as plasmapheresis, has been carried out on humans since the 1950s, but had never before been tried on a dog with New Forest Syndrome.

The procedure was risky because the machine also removes the clotting agents in the blood that would allow the wound to heal, meaning Alba risked bleeding to death.

Alba’s owner Rebecca Magee, 49, who lives in Bristol, told the Daily Mail: “It was a terrifying experience. It wasn’t an easy decision. But they made it clear it was her only chance of survival, so that made my mind up for me.”

The procedure cost £6,800 and was featured on the BBC2 series Young Vets.

Since the initial outbreak the mystery disease has spread to Cornwall, Surrey, Worcestershire and County Durham, killing scores of dogs.

Thousands of pounds were raised to try and pin down the cause, but despite experts puzzling over it no one knows what triggers the condition Dan Chan, the vet who treated Alba, told the Mail he has already seen six cases at the Queen Mother Animal Hospital but had not managed to save any of them.

“These are very early stages of understanding what the disease process is,” he said.

“Alba was very lucky because her kidney was not yet completely destroyed, and she was young and healthy enough to recover.”

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