Everything you need to know about Alabama Rot in Lancashire after disease kills dog in Chorley

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Fears are growing in Lancashire after a new case of the deadly dog disease Alabama Rot was confirmed in Chorley.


It is only the fourth case to be confirmed in Lancashire since 2014, but vets are warnings dog owners across the county to be vigilant.

Alabama Rot will cause a dog to lick at the sores and will, within days, experience symptoms of acute kidney injury (vomiting, reduced hunger or unusual tiredness).

Alabama Rot will cause a dog to lick at the sores and will, within days, experience symptoms of acute kidney injury (vomiting, reduced hunger or unusual tiredness).

Other confirmed cases led to the death of dogs in Fulwood, Heath Charnock and Garstang.

The disease remains a mystery in many ways, but new research is helping vets to understand more about Alabama Rot.

The disease is still extremely rare in Lancashire and further research is needed to establish more details on how dogs develop the disease.

But Lancashire Post has consulted with Vets 4 Pets to put together this explainer on everything that is currently known about Alabama Rot.

The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions, ulcers or sores on the legs, body, mouth or tongue.

The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions, ulcers or sores on the legs, body, mouth or tongue.

It aims to answer many of the questions dog owners might have, including which breeds are affected, how to spot the signs, how to protect your dog, and what to do if you think your dog has been infected.

READ MORE: Chorley dog dies from deadly disease Alabama Rot after walks around Adlington and Rivington

Which breeds are affected?

The disease has been reported in a wide range of breeds (35 in total) but, due to the small number of cases, it is not yet possible to say with any certainty whether a specific breed has an increased or decreased risk of the disease.

The disease was first seen in Alabama, USA in the 1980s. Pic - Vets 4 Pets.

The disease was first seen in Alabama, USA in the 1980s. Pic - Vets 4 Pets.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, has been supporting research on the condition for a number of years.

He said: “Since we held the first Alabama Rot conference in May 2017, vets and relevant professionals have been working hard to understand more about the condition.

“The information on climate and ground type will help us further explore possible triggers for the disease, but at the moment we can’t say if any breeds are more likely to develop the disease."

What is Alabama Rot?

The disease causes lesions on the skin and in the mouth, which look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Pic - Vets 4 Pets

The disease causes lesions on the skin and in the mouth, which look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Pic - Vets 4 Pets

Clinically known as CRGV (Cutaneous Renal and Glomerular Vasculopathy), the disease was first identified in the USA in the 1980s.

Alabama rot is a disease that damages blood vessels in the skin and kidneys of dogs.

It causes blood to clot in the vessels which damages the lining and the delicate tissues of the kidneys.

This causes ulcers on a dog’s skin which can lead to fatal kidney failure.

What causes Alabama Rot?

According to Vets 4 Pets, the cause of Alabama Rot remains unknown despite three years of research by veterinary specialists. Investigations are ongoing and possible causes, such as common bacterial infections and exposure to toxins, have been ruled out.

A map of confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in Lancashire, including the latest case in Chorley in January 2019.

A map of confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in Lancashire, including the latest case in Chorley in January 2019.

New research undertaken by the Royal Veterinary College also revealed that 95 per cent of confirmed cases occurred between November and May.

What are the signs?

The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions, open ulcers or sores, not caused by any known injury. These distinct injuries appear on the legs, body, mouth or tongue.

Most commonly these sores are found on the lower half of the leg and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.

The dog will lick at the sores and within days the dog will show symptoms of acute kidney injury (vomiting, reduced hunger or unusual tiredness). This can lead to sudden and potentially fatal kidney failure.

Dr Huw Stacey said: “With 52 cases in 2018 and 6 in 2019, it is understandably very worrying for dog owners, but we think the increase in cases is partially due to an increased awareness of the disease.

“However, this disease is still very rare, so we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions."

What can I do to protect my dog?

Unfortunately, as the cause is currently unknown, there is no way of preventing your dog from contracting the disease.

Some vets advise dog owners to wash any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk but it is not known whether this is of any benefit.

Also, because the cause is unknown, there is still no vaccine available.

What do the experts say?

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, has been supporting research on the condition for a number of years.

He said: “There is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease.

“Of course dog owners, particularly those in the areas with higher numbers of cases, may be nervous about Alabama Rot, but it’s still an extremely rare disease and we’d encourage owners to continue exercising their pet as normal.

“With 52 cases in 2018 and 6 in 2019, it is understandably very worrying for dog owners, but we think the increase in cases is partially due to an increased awareness of the disease.

“However, this disease is still very rare, so we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.

“We’ve seen cases of dogs walked with other dogs, in the same place every day, developing the disease, while the other dogs remained completely unaffected.

What should I do if I think my dog is infected?

According to Dr Stacey, if you think your dog has caught Alabama Rot, you should contact your vet immediately.

He said: “If a dog becomes infected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care at a specialist facility such as Anderson Moores or the Royal Veterinary College.

“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.

“This will help build knowledge about the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.

“Research will continue and, in time, we all hope the cause will be identified.”

Alabama Rot in numbers

In total, the UK has now seen 181 confirmed cases of Alabama Rot across 38 counties, since 2012:

- 6 in 2012

- 5 in 2013

- 32 in 2014

- 21 in 2015

- 19 in 2016

- 40 in 2017

- 52 in 2018

- 6 so far in 2019

Vets4pets has produced an interactive map giving details of all cases spread across 30 counties. You can see the map here.