The first warning signs began several years ago when an unidentified illness began killing dogs who had walked in New Forest National Park and the Queen’s estate in Sandringham, Norfolk. For years, British veterinarians didn’t know what was causing the dogs to fall violently ill.
It was referred to as Canine Seasonal Illness because of its prevalence during Spring, Summer and Fall and no one knew how the dogs were contracting it. After extensive research by scientist to determine what might be the cause, they determined the cause was Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) or “Alabama Rot”.
Alabama Rot was first identified in the United States back in the 1980s in greyhounds, but the condition is not breed specific and can affect any dog. CRGV/Alabama Rot is believed to be caused by E. coli bacteria found in mud and dirt that when picked up by a dog begins to excrete harmful toxins, although veterinarians are not certain as the the exact cause.
What they do know is that toxins develop into skin lesions and ulcers on a dog’s body and can enter the dog’s blood stream causing the dog to become violently ill and eventually can lead to kidney failure and death.
The bacteria lives in something in the ground (living in mud and mulch), but vets can’t say exactly what in the forests is actually causing it.
Infected dogs show symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy. Unusual, painful lesions (usually on their paws, below the knee or elbow, muzzle and sometimes chest and abdomen) are also an early sign, but in some cases lesions do not appear immediately. They may present as a swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect in the skin (like an ulcer on the tongue or mouth), according to The Forestry Commission England.
Over the subsequent two to ten days the affected dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
There is no definitive test for the disease, but lesions are a tell-tale sign. If left untreated, over the subsequent 2 to 10 days, the dog will develop clinical signs of kidney failure (vomiting, reduced appetite, tiredness), which can result in death.
That’s what happened to a dog named Bruno in 2013. Bruno went for a walk with his owner, Jon Beal, in New Forest, a woodlands area in Britain and a week later a mysterious and deadly disease claimed his life. Jon Beal, said it began with a lesion to Bruno’s paw. Blood works were taken for more information but within three days his “condition worsened terribly and he developed renal failure.
“When he became ill, it was both shocking and painful to see him reduced to such a weak animal,” Beal told MailOnline. “In losing Bruno we lost our best friend.”
Unfortunately, the infection is spreading throughout the the United Kingdom, prompting vets to warn dog owners, especially those walking their dogs in affected areas. According to Vets4Pets, Alabama rot has spread to 16 counties in the UK. Since Alabama Rot was identified in the UK, there have been 103 suspected cases, including 52 deaths confirmed as caused by the bacteria.
The best preventative advice is to be vigilant and to wash woodland mud off a dog’s paws and legs and fur immediately after your dog has been out walking. Vets also recommend to keep an eye on your dog’s snout and legs for any early signs of lesions. If your dog suddenly loses energy and is lethargic and develops lesions, this could also be an early warning sign. If you are concerned, visit your veterinarian.
Thankfully, CRGV is not widespread and seems localized to certain regions in the country. A number of British organizations are tracking and collating cases of Alabama Rot throughout the country.
However, veterinarians issued new warnings in March 2018 after a noticeable increase of cases among dogs in the past few years. They are cautioning dog owners to avoid letting their dog walk or play in mud where the bacteria lives.
Here is a video with more detail about the disease.
Share this important information with the dog lovers you know.