Published on April 18th, 2016 | by Debbie Martin0
Alabama Rot: Know the Signs
With two more confirmed cases of Alabama rot this month, in which both dogs unfortunately lost their lives, owners are being urged to be aware of the early signs of the disease.
History of Alabama Rot
Alabama rot was first seen in the United States in the 1980s and we are now seeing cases within the UK with incidents initially being reported in the New Forest. When the disease first came to light it primarily affected greyhounds but now it appears that any dog can get Alabama Rot, anywhere in the UK. Latest statistics show that between November 2012 and May 2015, 56 confirmed cases of Alabama rot have been reported. Unfortunately, Alabama Rot is a disease that is fatal in 9 out of 10 dogs.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama rot, also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) causes lesions on the skin (most commonly the feet) and occasionally in the mouth. These lesions can initially be mistaken for other ailments such as bites, sores, wounds or stings, which makes early diagnosis very difficult. The lesions are caused when tiny blood clots form in the blood vessels damaging the tissue and causing ulceration. This is then accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys which can lead to renal failure within 2 to 7 days.
- Skin lesions on the legs, chest and abdomen
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Severe depression
- Loss of appetite
Causes of Alabama Rot
Despite extensive testing the underlying cause of Alabama Rot is still unclear. Experts describe the disease found in the UK as being “very similar” to Alabama Rot, thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria. As a result of its unknown cause, it cannot be vaccinated against, protected against or prevented.
Treatment for CRGV involves aggressive management and monitoring of the kidney failure. The earlier this treatment is started the better the outcome is likely to be. Therefore, education of pet owners to recognize the early signs of this fatal disease, may help to improve chances of survival. Recent figures show that mortality rates reduce to 70% if cases are hospitalised at a 24 hour manned veterinary hospital where round the clock care is provided.
We would advise owners to seek an appointment with a vet straightaway if they spot a lesion on their dog. We must stress however that just because a dog has a lesion does not mean that it has or will develop Alabama Rot.
As a precaution some vets are recommending that owners wash their dog’s legs when they get back from a walk to help to minimize the risk of contamination as current veterinary thinking is that there is an environmental trigger.