Paul Revell explains what Alabama Rot is, it’s causes, symptoms and how to prevent it.
What Is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot or Idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) was first seen in the 1980s in Alabama, and it was only seen in Greyhounds. Initially sores were found on the legs, chest or abdomen with the patients later developing renal failure and often death. The disease seemed to disappear so very little investigation was done.
In November 2012 the first cases were identified in the UK. Post-mortem exams showed these cases were very similar to Alabama Rot. The biggest difference is that in the UK, it appears any breed of dog can be affected.
The condition damages the blood vessels in the skin and then the kidneys leading to severe renal failure.
What Causes Alabama Rot?
The honest answer is we don’t know. There has been lots of speculation about possible poisons, parasites and bacterial causes, but unfortunately the underlying causes of the disease have not yet been identified.
Where Is It?
Again we don’t know. Many of the cases had walked in muddy woodland areas before they showed symptoms, and most cases were diagnosed between November and June. Initially it was found around the New Forest, Hampshire but has since been confirmed throughout England. Recently, there have been suspect cases around Swadlincote and there have been around 100 confirmed cases in the UK since 2012.
What Is The Difference Between Confirmed & Suspect Cases?
Unfortunately confirmation can only be done on post-mortem. As some cases will survive and others may not go for post-mortem then this is likely to be an under estimate.
Conversely, there are also other, more common causes of kidney failure so it is hard to say how many of the suspect cases are actually Alabama Rot.
Alabama Rot Symptoms
The first signs are sores that develop, usually on the lower leg. It is important to note they are not caused by an injury, they just appear. They can look like a red mark, open sore or ulcer and can affect multiple areas. Occasionally they are found on the face or body.
Around a week after the sores first develop, the patient start showing signs of acute renal failure such as loss of appetite, vomiting, weakness, depression and collapse. The prognosis is very poor, approximately 70-80% of cases will not make it.
If you suspect your dog has this condition, it is important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. By starting cases early on intravenous drips, the worst of the kidney damage can hopefully be avoided.
How To Prevent Alabama Rot
As the cases are scattered and isolated it is difficult to know for sure what areas to avoid. There are around 8.5 million dogs in the UK. As there are only a couple of hundred confirmed or suspected cases, it is thankfully still very rare.
The best general advice is to wash mud off your dog as soon as you can after each and every walk. It is impossible to say for sure how effective this is, but is currently the best advice we can give.