Please note: The information collected in this blog post about Alabama Rot was compiled in April 2018.


What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot – officially known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) –  is a fairly new disease first identified in the 1980’s. It originated in the US hence the first part of the nickname, and the large and rapidly-growing skin lesions it causes in dogs has resulted in it being commonly known as rot.

When was it first detected?

It was first spotted in the UK in 2012, and since then it has continued to be a problem. It’s now estimated that more than 120 dogs across the UK have died from it.

What do we know about the disease?

Very little is known about the disease and how dogs catch it. It’s not known whether the causes are parasitic, bacterial or even an extreme toxic poisoning from E.coli. This makes developing a vaccine impossible. As no one knows where it comes from, it’s also impossible to say with any certainty whether it’s transmitted within the environment, why some dogs get it and others don’t, or how to prevent or treat it. When it was first identified in America it just infected greyhounds, but in the UK it doesn’t seem to prefer any particular breed, sex, size or age dog.

Sadly 85% of dogs who contract the disease still die from it, and usually within seven days of being infected. Fortunately, it targets only a very small number of dogs, but we do still need to be on the lookout.  Being aware of local cases and symptoms developing will help us prevent infection and spread, and enable us to treat any infected dogs as SOON as possible to help their chances of survival.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

The first symptoms people spot are painful sores that are often on the legs, stomach and chest. These usually get worse within the following days, and during this period other symptoms start to appear including fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, and being sick. Around day three renal function starts to become impaired as the liver and kidneys start to fail. Unfortunately, by this stage death is inevitable and generally happens within four days.

What should I do if I think my dog is infected with Alabama Rot?

Call Castle Vets immediately on 01566 772211

We will see your dog at the earliest possible time but may ask you to access the practice slightly differently to normal. As we still have no real idea how this is spread, it’s a sensible precaution to safeguard other pets visiting the practice who may already have a suppressed immune system.

We can treat any visible symptoms and help relieve any discomfort your dog might be in. If caught early enough damage may not have occurred internal organs, so we might be able to help support them through it and give them the best chance to fight through the disease.

Don’t forget – we don’t know much about the disease, but we do know that some dogs who have contracted the disease HAVE been successfully treated in the UK since 2013.

Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog getting infected?

There is no official confirmation, but the mapped pattern of cases across the country makes us fairly sure that the disease is spread environmentally and probably via their feet and legs.

The best way forward is to avoid walking your dog anywhere there has been a confirmed case. You can find a map with regular update that shows where dogs have been infected here, and search it by area:  https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/cases-alabama-rot-devon-mapped-1398482

Fortunately there has so far only been 1 confirmed case within a 20 mile radius of Launceston.

If you think you’ve inadvertently walked in an infected area – take the following precautionary steps:

  • Thoroughly wash your dog paying particular attention to paws and lower legs.
  • It’s also sensible to wash any bedding in the car that might have been touched during transportation, and any bedding and flooring at home.

Conclusion

This is a horrible disease but do remember that only 126 (correct as of April 2018) dogs out of a UK population of around 8.5 million have died from this in the last five years, so the chances of your dog contracting it are slim.

We want you and your dog to have a happy life together so don’t live in fear, but the death rate of 126 is more than anyone would have liked. Simply by exercising sensible avoidance, cleanliness and observation we CAN offer the canine population the best chance at beating this.

This is another Alabama Rot resource you may be interested in: www.andersonmoores.com

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