Alabama Rot and what we know so far
Alabama Rot or Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) was first identified in the USA in the 1980s in greyhounds. It can be hard to diagnose and extremely difficult to treat, with an estimated 20-30% of cases being successfully treated. First discovered in the UK in 2012 in the New Forest, cases of Alabama Rot have since been identified across 29 other counties in the UK.
There were 19 cases of the disease in 2016, 40 in 2017, and so far in 2018, there have been 30 confirmed cases, indicating that the disease is on the rise. Vets4Pets have created a heat map of cases involving Alabama Rot, this is useful for pet owners and vets to identify high-risk areas (www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot).
Causes of Alabama Rot
It is not yet certain as to what causes Alabama Rot and most confirmed cases have been during the months of November and June (http://www.countryfile.com/news/alabama-rot-dog-disease-what-you-need-know). It is estimated that it could be caused by damp, muddy and woody environments and dog owners are advised to wash off mud from paws and coats as soon as possible and keep an eye on where their dog ventures during walks.
However, whilst this is an estimate and has not been confirmed, there have been few warnings made to dog owners advising them to stay away from certain areas.
Signs and Symptoms of Alabama Rot
One of the first signs of the disease is usually a sore on the skin that has not been caused by an injury, these are most commonly located under the elbow, knee, face or stomach. These sores can look like a patch of red skin that has signs of swelling or could take the appearance of an open wound or sore with a similar appearance to that of an ulcer.
A dog may begin to lick its wound and could also experience hair loss in the affected area. Within two to seven days of these skin sores appearing, your dog may begin to show signs of depression, loss of appetite and vomiting and these symptoms may eventually lead to kidney failure.
Treating Alabama Rot
Dogs suspected of being infected with CRGV need to be taken to their vet immediately as the sooner treatment is started the better chances of the treatment being successful. The best outcomes have been through early intervention with high-quality veterinary care. However, the diagnosis of CRGV cannot be confirmed without analysis of the kidney tissue, which can only be obtained after death. Therefore, it can be very difficult to know if the cases that have been successfully treated were in fact CRGV (https://www.vets-now.com/2017/05/13-questions-youve-always-wanted-ask-alabama-rot/)
It is important to remember that Alabama Rot is still an extremely rare disease and the volume of cases in the UK is very low.
Country File. 2018. Guide to Alabama rot dog disease: How to spot the signs and protect your dog. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.countryfile.com/news/alabama-rot-dog-disease-what-you-need-know. [Accessed 9 April 2018].
Vets4Pets. 2018. Stop Alabama Rot. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/. [Accessed 9 April 2018].
Alabama Rot. 2018. What is Alabama Rot. [ONLINE] Available at: http://alabamarot.co.uk/about-alabama-rot/about-rot/. [Accessed 9 April 2018].
Vets Now. 2018. Alabama rot in dogs: 13 questions you’ve always wanted to ask. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.vets-now.com/2017/05/13-questions-youve-always-wanted-ask-alabama-rot/. [Accessed 17 April 2018].