Alabama Rot was first spotted in the UK in 2012 but has been active in the US since the late 1980s.
Over the last few years, more and more cases have come to light and to date, more than 100 dogs have lost their lives to the disease, and it's around this time of year that the risk is greatest to dogs.
The cause of the flesh-eating disease is still unknown and dogs of any age, sex or breed can be affected. Statistics say that nine in 10 dogs who contract the disease will sadly lose their lives.
What Is Alabama Rot?
Also known as Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), Alabama Rot is thought to be environmentally based because dogs are contracting between November and June.
With dangers heightened in woodland areas and the countryside, some veterinary experts think it may be linked to the weather and are comparing drier winters to wetter seasons to see if there is a correlation between the number of dogs affected and wet weather.
In 2015, vet Fiona Macdonald published this letter in the Veterinary Record:
“I am currently running a long term investigation combining retrospective serum sampling from recovered cases combined with in-contact dogs along with specialised sample taking from the skin lesions on first presentation at the veterinary practices involved. Hopefully we might have some results later in 2015, but the weather this winter has been significantly drier than the last two winters and there seems to have been a parallel reduction in cases to date.”
So, could it be linked to stagnant water left to gather?
At this point, not much more is known but earlier this year, experts gathered at a conference in Reading to discuss the disease and how to advance research into it to better understand and treat the fatal disease.
Symptoms of Alabama Rot
Dog owners are being asked to remain vigilant for sores and lesions after walks, which are the earliest and easiest signs to spot.
Typically showing below the knee or elbow, or even face, skin lesions may appear as a swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect in the skin (like a slow healing ulcer). Over two-seven days other signs might develop which may point to kidney failure, including vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
Dog owners concerned with similar symptoms should take their dog to a vet even if the lesions appear on their legs, paws or face a week after a walk.
Vets are also recommending that dog owners wash their dogs thoroughly after walks if walking in muddy or woodland areas and keep up to date with the latest 'hot spots' of confirmed cases of Alabama Rot to help plan your walking routes. You can do this here >> www.alabamarot.co.uk
If you suspect your dog might have been affected then you should contact your vet immediately.