Dog-owners beware: Lethal flesh-eating Alabama Rot disease is running rampant

Dog-owners beware: Lethal flesh-eating Alabama Rot disease is running rampant

Keep your doggos safe from this devastating illness. Consult your vet as soon as you see the symptoms.

Dog parents, bad news. There's a deadly disease called Alabama Rot that is killing dogs by the dozen. The fatal disease first appeared in the UK six years ago and has claimed the lives of dozens of our four-legged friends since then, reports Mirror.

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The worst part is that there is no known vaccine or cure. What you can do, however, is be vigilant and look out for the symptoms so that our furry four-legged friends can be safe.

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot, otherwise known as CRGV (Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy), is a disease which causes sores to appear on your dogs’ skin and then consequently results in kidney failure. The devastating condition can also lead to a dog's flesh rotting away.

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The disease can lead to loss of appetite, tiredness, and vomiting and without immediate attention and treatment, dogs develop a raging fever and can eventually die.

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The disease does not discriminate between any breed and affects all of them. It is prevalent in wet conditions. It was first identified in Alabama, the USA in the 1980s in greyhounds, hence the name.

How dangerous is it?

There was an Alabama Rot outbreak in 2015 and proved dangerous when dogs caught it, but the number of cases reportedly remained relatively low.

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“Although CRGV can be very serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low (56 confirmed cases across the UK between November ‘12 and May ‘15)” However, Alabama Rot is fatal in 9 out of 10 cases and any dog can get it.

Symptoms to watch out for 

1. Skin lesions - They appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin, or open and ulcer-like.

2. Sore skin - if your dog hasn't been injured and your find sore spots below the elbow, knee, belly or muzzle this could be a symptom.

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3. Fever - If you've just got your dog groomed and he is tick free but you still a fever coming up? You should get your dog checked.

4. Vomiting or retching - If your dog is vomiting continuously or is retching, that is, trying to throw up mimicking the sound of the real deal, your dog may have Alabama Rot.

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5. Kidney failure - Within two to seven days one can see outward signs of kidney failure; vomiting, reduced hunger, and unusual tiredness.

Why does it happen?

Some veterinary experts theorize it is a parasite, others theorize it is bacterial. It is more widely believed that Alabama rot is caused by toxins produced by E. coli. Because the exact cause has not been found, developing a vaccine is not possible.

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The cause of Alabama rot in the UK is under study as of 2013 at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester, Hampshire. A comprehensive report on CRGV was published in March 2015 by the British Veterinary Association, concluding that it is a disease of unknown cause "carrying a poor prognosis when azotemia develops".

Treatments and precautions

Don't take your dogs for walks in muddy, wooded areas – especially if there's recently been heavy rainfall. If you absolutely have to, make sure you wash your dog's paws and legs thoroughly when you get back from the walk.

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Know the warning signs, they're key to catching it early. Contact your vet if you think your dog has caught it. Immediately. Remember the cause isn't totally proven, so there isn't any real way of preventing your dog from contracting the disease.

Treatment primarily involves wound management of skin lesions and aggressive supportive therapy when renal compromise occurs. Some UK dogs with Alabama rot have been successfully treated since 2013.

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There are reports, however, that suggest that researchers are really close to finding a cure. Professor Fiona Macdonald is a vet from Ringwood in Hampshire’s New Forest and founder of Fish Treatment Ltd. 

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Dr. Macdonald, who develops and supplies professional medicines for fish, thinks that she may have discovered a link between Alabama Rot and a bacteria found in fish. So far, Dr. Macdonald has tested around 27 dogs suffering from Alabama Rot symptoms with the help of funding from the New Forest Dog Owners’ Group. 

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However, she needs to test more dogs showing signs of Alabama Rot in order to attain more conclusive results. "So far we have found antibodies to this organism in over half of the 29 recovered/suspected cases examined, as well as recovering the actual organism from an active skin lesion. Although these are only preliminary results from a relatively small number of cases, this is very encouraging," she said.

However, it is to be noted that humans have not been affected by the Alabama rot and the disease seems to be only found in dogs and not affecting other animals like cats. 


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