DOG owners are being advised to be cautious amid fears an illness that has led to the death of two dogs in the region could spread to St Helens.

Two cases of Alabama Rot have been confirmed in neighbouring Leigh and the local authority there has confirmed that further cases are being investigated.

The death of a puppy in Culcheth, Warrington is also under investigation.

Concern is so high within the Leigh area that 300 people turned up at a public meeting in Tyldesley where a vet discussed the disease and answered questions from worried dog owners.

Alabama Rot can cause kidney failure leading to death and owners are being urged to seek veterinary advice if they notice a change in their dog's behaviour, eating habits or lesions on their skin.

The disease appeared in America in the 1980s and was diagnosed in dogs exercised in the New Forest area of Hampshire in 2012.

The disease does not apparently pass from dog to dog. The reported cases in the Wigan area relate to wooded areas within the Leigh, Tyldesley and Atherton districts.

A St Helens Council spokesman said: “We are aware of the situation but so far no cases have been reported in St Helens.”

The Star contacted Rutland House, Better Vets and Springbank veterinary practices in St Helens who all said they had not had any confirmed cases.