Dog owners are being urged to be watchful of their pets after another case of Alabama Rot has been confirmed in the UK. The deadly, flesh-eating virus killed eight dogs in the UK in 2022, with the latest case occurring in Lambourn, Berkshire.
Alabama Rot was first found in the UK in 2012 and have mostly been reported by pet owners who walk their dogs in the countryside. Most cases are reported during winter and spring when the weather is typically colder and wetter, and it is generally much rarer in the summer months.
The new confirmed case follows 28 throughout 2021 and 47 in 2020, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to almost 300. Experts at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester confirmed another two other cases last year and the animal hospital has been collating information on all confirmed cases and reports across the UK since 2012.
James Walker, a vet at Anderson Moores, said: “We’re incredibly sorry to have to confirm Grace was a victim of CRGV. We have been at the forefront of research into CRGV for almost a decade and have witnessed first-hand the often-devastating effects of the disease.
“Treatment largely revolves around management of the sudden onset of kidney failure and, sadly, with our current understanding of the disease, is only successful in around 10% of cases. We’re advising owners across the country to remain calm but vigilant and seek advice from their local vets if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.”
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama rot, otherwise known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a disease that affects dogs. It damages the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys, which causes visible sores on the skin and can lead to severe organ dysfunction and kidney failure.
The disease has a 90% mortality rate but the cause of the disease is still unknown, and unfortunately signs are often detected too late.
What are the symptoms?
The first sign of the disease is often a sore on the skin which will usually appear below the knee or elbow, and occasionally on the face or at the bottom of the chest or abdomen. It can cause the skin to become red and the sore may look like an open ulcer.
The RSPCA recommends looking for the following symptoms:
- Skin sores, visible swelling, red patch or skin defects not caused by a known injury
- Changes in appetite, including reduced appetite, drinking more, vomiting and lethargy
The majority of visible skin lesions will not be caused by Alabama rot disease, and most cases of kidney failure will be a result of another cause, but if you are concerned your dog is suffering, you should seek advice from your vet as early detection is key.
Should I be worried about my dog getting Alabama rot?
Cases of Alabama rot in the UK are extremely low, so dog owners should not be too worried about their pet falling ill. The illness seems to affect dogs that have been walking in muddy, woodland areas, and it first appeared among Greyhounds in Alabama, USA in the 1980s.
David Walker is an RCVS and EBVS European specialist in small animal internal medicine, leading the team at Anderson Moores. He said the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care which may be best provided at a specialist facility. He explained: "We have been at the forefront of research into CRGV for almost a decade and have witnessed first-hand the often-devastating effects of the disease. Treatment largely revolves around intensive management of the sudden onset kidney failure and, sadly, with our current understanding of the disease, is only successful in around 10% of cases."
Mr Walker hopes that Anderson Moores’ new dedicated CRGV website will be a useful tool in raising awareness of the disease and providing information to dog owners. He added: "In launching this new website, we aim to give pet owners as much information as possible about CRGV.
“We hope the confirmed case map will also prove useful. Although an environmental trigger has not been definitively proven, the seasonality of the disease makes it eminently possible and the map allows everyone to see the location of confirmed cases."