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More research needed into mystery of Alabama Rot

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New research is needed following the first series of cases of suspected Alabama Rot in the UK according to veterinary research.

The findings, published online by the Veterinary Record form the first study of the disease which causes skin lesions and kidney failure and is suspected to have killed dozens of dogs in the UK over the past year. Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy otherwise known as CRGV or Alabama Rot is a disease that has been seen in the USA since the 1980s but had previously been thought to affect only Greyhounds.

The publication of the report comes following new cases of the disease over the past two months with two further suspected cases in Cornwall and West Yorkshire in February and six further suspected cases in Hampshire, Greater London, Dorset, Berkshire, Kent and East Sussex in January. 

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Possible cases of Alabama rot were identified in 71 dogs across England between November 2012 and March 2014. Of these, the study by the team of veterinary experts, focussed on 30 cases.

Of this group of 30 pets who died from suspected Alabama Rot, five were English Springer Spaniels, four were Flat Coated Retrievers, three were Whippets, two were Border Collies, two were Jack Russell terriers and two were Dobermans. The group also included a Labrador, Cocker Spaniel, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Hungarian Vizsla, Weimaraner, Dalmatian, Tibetan terrier and five cross breed dogs.

In the spotlight: Vet David Walker from Anderson Moores in Winchester first saw three cases of the disease back in 2013

Ten dogs had been in the New Forest National Park shortly (four hours to 14 days) before developing skin lesions or becoming unwell. However dogs from Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Dorset, Shropshire, Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire, County Durham and Monmouthshire also displayed similar symptoms and the report concluded: “Although cases were reported from across the north and south of England, 36.7 per cent came from The New Forest in Hampshire. This high percentage could, however, be attributed to the geographical location of the primary investigators in Hampshire and increased awareness amongst local veterinarians.”

Skin lesions, tiredness and fever

Most of the affected dogs developed skin lesions and others developed tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting and fever. The report’s authors explained: “Most of the dogs in this case series were initially evaluated at their primary practice for a skin lesion (or lesions) which was considered consistent with pyoderma [a bacterial skin infection], a bite, sting, or a wound. Systemic signs developed a median of four days later.”

Researchers said acute kidney injury in these dogs was caused by damage to the small blood vessels in the organs.

Some dogs may be survivors of disease

The report concludes that it is unclear whether Alabama Rot is an emerging disease or one that was previously present but unrecognised.

The report states: "Continued detailed evaluation will enhance the understanding of the disease and will hopefully help to identify possible triggers."

However there is, according to the veterinary experts, some cause for hope as they identified six possible survivors of the disease suggesting that it is not an “invariably fatal disease”.

 

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Published: 03:29, 27 March 2015 | Updated: 03:44, 27 March 2015