What is Alabama Rot?(Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy)
Alabama Rot (also known as CRGV) is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by damage to the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys of dogs. It causes blood clots to form and block the blood vessels, ultimately leading to tissue damage. This causes ulcers and lesions when it affects the skin and, in the kidneys, it can lead to kidney failure.
What causes Alabama Rot?
This disease started affecting dogs relatively recently and research is still ongoing but all breeds and ages of dogs, both male and female, can be affected. The cause is still a mystery at present however; it seems to be spread by wet, muddy conditions, and it affects particular regions with the majority of cases reported between November and March.
A research fund has been started to investigate this deadly disease, and donations are needed to keep the work going.
How do I prevent Alabama Rot?
Until a definitive cause is discovered it’s difficult to give fool-proof advice for avoiding this disease. Keep an eye on any alerts you see which may point to the disease being prevalent in certain areas and give your dogs a good wash if they get wet or muddy on walks.
Regularly inspect your dog’s paws, lower legs and mouth for any sores or skin lesions. If you do find any, make sure you promptly take your dog to the vets to be checked over. In most instances, the skin lesions will not be related to Alabama rot, but it is important to remain vigilant.
What are the signs and symptoms of Alabama Rot?
It’s important to note that incidences of this disease are low (affecting around 150 dogs in the UK between November 2012 and March 2018), so symptoms that could arouse suspicion are unlikely to turn out to be Alabama Rot. However, if it is Alabama Rot it is very serious, so it’s vital to act quickly.
The first symptoms seen in affected dogs are typically skin sores on their lower legs and paws, but lesions can also be found on the face, mouth and tongue. Approximately 3-10 days after the skin lesions are first detected, kidney failure develops and unfortunately at this stage, the disease is often fatal. Signs of kidney failure include tiredness, a change in drinking or urination habits, inappetence and vomiting.
If you suspect Alabama Rot you should call your vet and ask for advice as soon as you can.
How is Alabama Rot treated?
If you’re concerned that your dog might have Alabama Rot, it’s crucial to speak to your vet and to avoid administering any medication yourself. If it has only affected the skin, this can be treated non-invasively and if done so promptly and appropriately by a veterinary surgeon, they may not go on to develop kidney problems and may make a full recovery.
Unfortunately, if an infected dog develops kidney failure, there are currently no effective treatments and at this stage, the condition is usually fatal. However, clinical research and investigations into the disease are being carried out, and the Royal Veterinary College have reported some success in treating these patients using a technique known as plasmapheresis to filter toxins from the blood.
Can other animals (or people) get Alabama Rot?
So far Alabama Rot only seems to affect dogs. It hasn’t been diagnosed in any humans or other animals.
David Walker, of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists near Winchester, who is leading the national research into this killer disease, warmly welcomed the Animal Friends team to his surgery in February 2019. Watch our exclusive video with Dr Walker where he answers questions about the disease.
Alabama Rot, or CRGV, is still a very rare disease, so there is no need to panic. Remain calm and seek advice from your veterinary team if you have any concerns.
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To learn more about Alabama Rot Research please visit arrf.co.uk