Alabama Rot - should we be worried?

Posted by on 8 January 2018 | Comments

Alabama rot – What is it and should we be worried?

If you follow social media you can’t fail to see headlines about a disease called Alabama Rot. But what is it and should you be worried? We have again had several phone calls from concerned clients over the last week, so we thought we should provide some information for you.


What is Alabama Rot?

The proper name for Alabama Rot is “Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy” or CRGV. It is an uncommon but serious disease which has only been seen in UK dogs over the last 5 years. It causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth which can look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Some dogs go on to develop life-threatening kidney failure. It can affected any age or breed of dog. It seems to be more common between October and April.


How common is Alabama Rot and is it in my area?

Unfortunately, we have to confirm 3 new cases of cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (often termed CRGV or Alabama Rot). The cases were from Edgbaston (West Midlands), Cannock (Staffordshire) and Alsager (Cheshire).

This brings the total number of confirmed cases to 112 since 2012 with 29 in 2017. Most confirmed cases have been seen between October and April. We would continue to advise owners to be vigilant and to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions/sores.

There have been 6 confirmed cases in a 20 mile radius of Blue House within the last 5 years. With an approximate number of 8.5 million dogs in the UK, that means 0.001% of dogs have been affected – so it is very, very rare.


What causes Alabama Rot?

The simple answer is we do not know. 5 years of research has so far drawn a blank but investigations are ongoing. There are many theories including environmental causes.


How do I stop my dog getting Alabama Rot?

Unfortunately there is no vaccination or medication you can give your dog to prevent Alabama Rot. The current advice is that there is no need to avoid particular locations (there was when the first few cases were all confirmed around the New Forest in 2012, but subsequent cases do not seem to have the same patterns).

It is advisable to wash mud from your dogs’ legs and paws after walks as this is a possible route of infection.


What are the symptoms of Alabama Rot?

“Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin, particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth) are often the first sign of the disease. It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV; however the lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites.”* If you are concerned then please ask for advice. Even if the skin changes are caused by CRGV many dogs will not develop kidney problems and will recover fully.


How is CRGV treated?

If your dog gets a skin lesion, your vet will advise you of the most appropriate management. This may involve antibiotics and/or cleaning.

Dogs developing kidney failure will need much more intensive treatment and possibly referral to a specialist if Alabama rot is of concern.

In conclusion – Alabama rot is a very rare disease. If you are concerned that your dog may have the symptoms then please contact your vet for advice.


*Some of this information is taken from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, who are dealing with a number of these cases.