What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama rot /Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy
What is Alabama rot?
Alabama rot /CRGV is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. First identified in the USA in the 1980s, it causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
What causes Alabama Rot?
The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing.
Leading the investigations are Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists.
Recent work by the senior curator of herbology, from the Natural History Museum, suggests that plants are an unlikely trigger for Alabama Rot.
How do I stop my dog from getting Alabama Rot?
Unfortunately, as the cause is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention.
There does not appear to be a breed, body weight, sex or age predilection.
You may wish to consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.
Where should I walk my dog to avoid Alabama Rot?
Cases of Alabama Rot have been reported from across many different counties in the UK and we are not currently advising dog owners to avoid any particular locations.
The majority of the affected dogs have been walked in woodland (various types to the best of our knowledge); however, not all.
Although an environmental cause for this disease is considered possible it has not been proven with testing to date.
How will I know if my dog gets Alabama Rot?
Symptoms include lack of appetite, tiredness, vomiting and unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin (particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth). The skin lesions are often the first sign of this disease and typically appear less than 1 week before clinical signs attributable to AKI (Acute Kidney Injury)
It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by Alabama Rot (CRGV); however, the lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites, so if in doubt it is better to seek veterinary advice. Even if the skin changes are caused by Alabama Rot, many dogs will not develop kidney problems and will recover fully.
KEY MESSAGE: although Alabama Rot can be very serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low (64 confirmed cases across the UK since November 2012)
Sadly, right now, diagnosis can only be confirmed by examining kidney tissue under the microscope in the laboratory once the patient is deceased.
How is Alabama Rot treated?
If your dog develops a skin lesion your vet will be able to advise you on the most appropriate management. Your vet will decide if your dog needs antibiotics and if the area needs covering. Some forms of painkiller (called non-steroidals) may be best avoided. Dogs developing kidney failure (which is called acute kidney injury) will need much more intensive management and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist.
Can dogs get Alabama Rot all year round?
Over the last 3 years, more Alabama Rot cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter / Spring seasonality.
Does Alabama Rot affect other animals or humans?
Alabama Rot has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected by Alabama Rot have not been affected by this illness.
Is Alabama Rot the same illness as seasonal canine illness (SCI)?
No – these are 2 completely separate illnesses causing different signs. SCI causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy with no ulcerative skin lesions.
There is no central funding for this research. All past and ongoing research is only possible because of the fundraising which has been done and the generous donations made to the NF Dog owners group (www.newforestdog.org.uk) which was launched in 2014 and to Jessica Worthington’s Crowdfunding page. You never know if your own dog may need help one day.
Jessica Worthington, witnessed her own dog ‘Pippa’ contract and die from ‘Alabama Rot’ in December 2015. Jessica is a veterinary nurse and started to fund-raise for Alabama Rot research. She raised over £10,000 and the page is now closed. BBC video below
A questionnaire from the Animal Health Trust to help with research http://www.aht.org.uk/cms-display/aki.html
Map of confirmed and suspected cases in the UK http://alabamarot.co.uk/map/alabama-rot-uk-cases-map/
Information gathered from http://www.andersonmoores.com/home/
Photographs courtesy of http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/early/2015/03/13/vr.102892.full
Video courtesy of http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-35217802