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Parasite found in Riverside County linked to illness sickening dogs

Researchers in Riverside have pinpointed the cause of an illness in dogs in recent weeks and are warning pet owners to beware of a particular location in Southern California.

Alder Dillman, a former professor at the University of California Riverside-turned-pet detective, said he researched a mysterious illness that sickened dogs. First, he determined something all the ill dogs had in common.

“Been swimming in Blythe within two months of being diagnosed with this parasite,” Dillman said.

Blythe, a Riverside County city located about 220 miles east of Los Angeles, has a portion of the Colorado River flowing through the town. After finding the common factor in the sickened dogs, Dillman and his researchers headed to Blythe in search of a cause.

On the shore of river, the team found thousands of tiny snails and collected them for research. After studying them for some time, the team determined they were the cause of the pets’ illness.

“We were jumping up and down in the lab when we were able to definitively say it is this parasite and it is here in the Colorado (River),” Dillman said.

With that in mind, pet parents are warned to take extra precautions when letting their animal companions near the Colorado River.

“If you do take your dog into these waters and a month or two later, it begins to have some of the symptoms — it becomes lethargic, fever, diarrhea, it loses its appetite, starts to lose weight — you need to get that dog tested for this parasite,” Dillman advised.

Further cautioning, Dillman said the snails that carry the parasite are often eaten by raccoons, which may also pose a threat to dogs if the encounter them.

“That’s the next important question that we need to determine, is how far have these snails spread and what other fresh waters are they residing in,” Dillman said.

Source: NBC Los Angeles

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