Despite this being a sad topic, it needs to be talked about in order to raise awareness about the heartbreaking disease of Alabama Rot, which will help towards funding of research because, as of now, there is still very little known about it. I have gathered some research to share with you.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot, also known as CRGV, is a serious disease that eats away at dogs flesh, causing damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. The first sign of the disease is usually skin lesions that most commonly appear on their lower legs and sometimes the mouth. Unfortunately, this sometimes develops into sudden kidney failure, signs of this include:
- Reduced hunger
- Unusual tiredness
The following images are what the lesions can look like: (*I do not own these photos)
Alabama Rot does not discriminate between age, sex or breed so any dog can be affected. Sadly, it often leads to a fatal outcome, with statistics showing the fatality rate to be about 80%. Even though the disease is still very rare the amount of confirmed cases in 2018 has already largely increased since 2017, which has sparked a lot of concern. It first presented itself in the U.K. New Forest in 2012 and has since spread across the U.K. So far there have been 135 cases, 29 of them occurring this year already which, in comparison to a total of 37 cases throughout the whole of 2017, makes experts believe that this will be worst year yet. When I found out about this devastating disease at the beginning of last year, I really freaked out, Maximus and Oscar are such huge parts of my life, I don’t know what I’d do without them. I know many other fur-mums fear it and are desperately searching for answers.
What causes Alabama Rot?
Unfortunately, the actual cause is not known. However, by looking at confirmed cases vets have been able to make a few assumptions based off of them.
The majority of dogs who have been treated for Alabama Rot were walked in muddy and/or wooded areas prior to the symptoms arising. Therefore, it’s suggested that there may be an environmental factor. Many experts believe the cause could be down to toxins produced by the bacteria E.coli which is most prevalent in wet conditions, but there is no hard scientific evidence to back this up. However, this may be why cases have risen significantly since the new year because of the worsened weather conditions. Some experts also believe it could be down to rotting of leaves, but again this has not been scientifically proven.
Another finding has recently been discovered by vet Fiona Macdonald who noticed a link between Alabama Rot and a bacteria found in fish causing similar symptoms. Dr Macdonald, who runs a fish treatment centre, found a paper written in 1995 linking an organism which causes kidney failure in dogs. He said: “The organism was Aeromonas hydrophila, which is a bacteria that also affects fish”. This bacteria infects the animal and causes toxins to enter the body, which can be fatal. This particular organism can be found in fresh or brackish water which is devastating because Maximus loves water and I don’t want to restrict him too much.
Can I prevent it?
At the moment, there is no cure for Alabama Rot and, unfortunately, there are no proven prevention methods, but there are things you can do which may lessen the risk. Due to the suspected environmental factors, experts recommend to avoid woodland after heavy rainfall and wash your dog thoroughly after a muddy walk, particularly focusing on their paws and legs. As well as this, try to stop your dog going in brackish or stagnant water. If you notice any symptoms contact your vet immediately. The disease progresses and worsens very quickly, so catching it early is vital. Even if you’re just in the slightest bit of doubt, check with your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
The majority of cases appear between November to May, so I chose to completely avoid dense woodland during this time.
What does treatment involve?
Firstly, the skin lesions are usually treated with antibiotics in order to stop secondary infection occurring. The vet is likely to also carry out daily blood tests to observe kidney function. The kidneys are supported through fluid therapy and urine output is monitored and tested to check levels of protein. If signs of kidney injury become apparent, there are various treatment options that can be offered in attempt to improve the kidney function, however many of them are sadly unsuccessful (85%) because of how vigorous the disease is.
Can I help?
This is such a horrible disease, seeming to only target our poor four-legged companions who we love dearly. Experts need more funding to put towards research so we can help solve this growing problem quicker. If you are able to donate any money, please click here. There is also a petition in place to raise the attention of the DEFRA to fund research into the disease: it would be much appreciated if you took the time to sign it: here. This petition needs to reach 100,000 signatures before it is even considered for debate in parliament, so please take time help, it doesn’t take long.
Dogs need our help, even if you are unable to donate, please help spread awareness. Together we can #StopAlabamaRot.
Thanks for reading,
Charlotte & Maximus x