What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot is the common name for cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, which is believed to be caused by a rare form of E.Coli. It was first diagnosed in Greyhounds in Alabama, USA, back in the 1980s, but has been found more recently in the UK – around 60 dogs have been known to be affected here since 2012. The disease is indiscriminate of breed, age, gender and weight, and attacks the dog’s flesh before shutting down the kidney function; without immediate treatment it can be fatal.
Where is it?
The exact cause has not yet been identified, but it is thought to come from a parasite and has been linked to muddy woodland walks. Nearly 20 dogs died in an outbreak around the New Forest in 2013, and cases have been identified all over the UK in the years since then. Thankfully Alabama Rot has not yet been noticed in or around the Chilterns, however dogs have died from it as close as Northamptonshire, London and Surrey so it is wise for pet owners to be informed and alert.
What are the symptoms?
Skin lesions are the most common signs of Alabama Rot, often on the leg below the knee or elbow, but also on the chest and abdomen. The wounds can be circular and about the size of a five pence piece, but may also look like an ulcer. Typically the dog will lick the lesion and the hair will fall off, but not all sores look or act the same.
The other main symptom – presenting either simultaneously or up to 10 days later – is kidney failure, which results in vomiting, tiredness and lack of appetite. Although this is a serious disease, it is not always fatal and the kidney function can be restored if caught early and treated aggressively.
What should you do?
While the cause is still unknown it is hard to be sure how to prevent Alabama Rot, however it is sensible to avoid walking in places known to be infected. As it is thought to be contracted through muddy woodland walks, the best advice currently is to wash down muddy legs and check for any untoward wounds after a walk. Aqueos products have been proven to kill E.Coli, so using their dog wipes or anti-bacterial shampoo would also be a sensible precaution. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health, you should visit your vet immediately for a proper examination and diagnosis.
For more information, please see the UK official website: http://alabamarot.co.uk/
Written by: Lucy Ellis
Photos by: Lucy Ellis