Jon Little pulled out of Dawson in first place on Thursday morning with an explosive handicap.
His team has diarrhea.
“Four or five of them caught something, and it’s persistent,” he said.
Usually this kind of virus only lasts 24 hours.
“But it’s lingering,” he said.
Little noticed the problem just before he arrived in Dawson late Tuesday night.
“It will probably affect my race,” he said, hooking up his team at the Dawson campground.
“I’m going to have to take it easy.
“If someone wants to run a hard race, I’m going to have to let them go.
“We had a heck of a run (the first half of the race), and there’s still a long way to go.”
Jason Mackey’s team got diarrhea early on in the race, and it hit Hans Gatt’s team too.
“I had bloody diarrhea right after Braeburn, and it was severe in a few dogs,” said Gatt.
The three-time Quest champ was forced to take more breaks. “You can’t push a dog team like that,” he said. “It probably cost me the couple of hours I’m behind.
“But it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, you have to run your own race.”
There is always a risk of picking up this kind of virus on the trail, added Gatt.
There are different viruses that can cause the diarrhea, said Quest vet Stephan Keller.
“Either you get it from another dog that is carrying it, or from somewhere else.”
The trouble with viruses is they can’t be treated directly, he said.
“With bacteria, you can give antibiotics,” said Keller.
“But with a virus you can only treat the symptoms, not the cause.”
Diarrhea’s a common problem in sport animals, said Quest vet Jamie Martinez.
“Humans and dogs get it because of the stress of competing and the movement.”
The change in food is also a factor, he said.
Dogs that are travelling great distances are often fed more fat and calories and this can cause diarrhea, said Martinez.
The most important thing is to make sure the dogs stay hydrated and get some sort of anti-diuretic.
Gatt was scheduled to leave Dawson in fourth place, about three hours behind Little.
However, he announced his intention to scratch on Thursday, just as this story was going to press. (Genesee Keevil)