Veterinary authorities have warned dog owners of the need to vaccinate their pets against canine plague, after outbreaks have been found in the vicinity of Tallinn.
The recent cases have affected foxes, who can pass on the disease to domestic dogs and follows cases early on in the year in various locations in Estonia.
The Veterinary and Food Board (VTA) said: "While we were were notified on several occasions about cases of canine plague in Harju, Tartu and Rapla counties at the start of this year, the situation remained calm until the end of October. Several notifications about infected foxes have emerged recently in rural municipalities near Tallinn, however."
These municipalities are Viimsi, Jõelahtme, Saue and Saku, which either border with Tallinn City or lie within a few kilometers of it.
The diagnoses were confirmed by tests commissioned by the VTA and carried out by the authority's food laboratory.
Canine plague is a highly contagious viral disease which affects puppies first and foremost, and requires vaccination, the VTA's departmental head Harles Kaup said.
The disease is characterized by fever, inflammation of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, inflammation of the eyes, pneumonia, skin rash and nerve symptoms.
Wild animal from the Canidae (foxes, wolves), Mustelidae (badgers, martens, weasels etc.) and Procyonidae (not extant in Estonia but some species – raccoons, coatis etc. may be in captivity) families can be infected with the plague virus.
People are not at risk from the disease. Puppies and juveniles of these species are particularly susceptible to the disease, and adults are less likely to fall ill.
The source of infection is diseased animals that secrete the agent already during the latent period and even after suffering through the disease.
The virus is excreted from the body by the nasal passages, tears, exhaled air, urine and feces. The virus can also be transmitted through contaminated objects, clothing, and feed. The latent period is 3-7 days or longer.
Editor: Andrew Whyte