Vets say the New Year has witnessed two confirmed cases of the deadly kidney disease in Greater Manchester and Cornwall. The deaths have also been announced of another four dogs during December, bringing last year’s total number of fatalities to a record 52. Since the very first case of Alabama Rot was reported in the UK in 2012 there have been 177 fatalities.
None of the deaths reported today by Vets4Pets and Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists occurred in fresh areas where there have been no previous incidence of the disease, which is officially known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV). The disease begins with open sores on a pet’s legs, often after a walk in wooded areas, but rapidly turns into catastrophic kidney disease.
The 2019 deaths happened in Lostock, Greater Manchester, and Redruth in Cornwall. Those recorded in December occurred in Caterham and Woldingham, both Surrey, Putney in Greater London and Portreath, Cornwall.
Scientists believe the way the disease is evident during the winter months and centred on certain areas of the country will produce the vital evidence to help them establish its cause and also lead to an eventual cure.
Recognising the symptoms and getting urgent veterinary attention remains the key way of saving a pet’s life.
Announcing the six new cases today, Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, based in Hampshire, said: “We are in the time of year when historically we have identified more cases of CRGV and although this disease remains rare, we continue to advise owners to be vigilant and to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.
“Although an environmental trigger for this disease is possible, this has not been proven.”
Vets4Pets have produced a UK map to outline the distribution of cases since the first report six years ago. It shows how the deaths are clustered around the Greater Manchester and Hampshire areas, with other concentrations along the Severn Valley and in Surrey. East Anglia and the North Sea coastal counties from North Yorkshire to Kent are virtually unscathed.
There is also a seasonal trend, with 70 per cent of cases happening during the period from December through to March.
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets for Pets, has been supporting research on the condition for a number of years and says recent findings may help provide a “stepping stone” to unravelling the cause of the disease.
He said: “We know how the disease presents and how it affects dogs internally, and this research adds some interesting information that may help to increase vets’ index of the suspicion for the disease. 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.
“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. While this research may be a stepping stone to finding the cause of Alabama Rot, there is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease.”
For help recognising some of the signs and to see a map of confirmed cases, please visit www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/.
The Kennel Club has produced a video to help dog owners understand more about the disease.
Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said: “Although the disease is very rare, affecting an extremely low percentage of dogs in the UK, the condition is very serious and potentially life-threatening. It is therefore vital that owners understand and recognise the warning signs, especially as time plays a significant part in successfully treating the disease.
“We are asking owners to look out for any signs of Alabama Rot during the winter months and to remember to take action right away. Any dogs with unexplained or concerning skin lesions which typically look like sores, ulcers, or red, swollen, bruised areas, commonly with an infected appearance should be taken to their vet as soon as possible.
“These skin changes are usually found on their paws or lower legs, but may also appear on their head, face or lower body. Dogs who have contracted the disease may also become tired, disinterested in food, or present other signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhoea. Although these signs may not necessarily mean your dog has Alabama Rot, acting quickly and speaking to a vet to determine what is wrong is the best course of action to protect your pet’s health.”