Having had a fatal case of Alabama Rot (scientifically known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy or CRGV) at Avenue Vets confirmed via post mortem, here is some vital information about this emerging but still poorly understood disease in the UK.
Key points about the case in Malvern
- CRGV is a particularly serious disease but the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains extremely low ~ less than 20 cases spread throughout the UK each year since November 2012, bearing in mind that there are approximately 8.5 million dogs in the country
- Although there are suspicions that there is a trigger factor in the environment at present there is not enough evidence to advise against walking in any specific areas. It has been suggested that mud should always be washed off dogs’ legs after a walk – this would seem to be sensible but it is not known whether this is necessary or helps prevent the disease
- Our unfortunate patient had been walked in many different locations around the Malvern area. All of these locations would have been walked by many other dogs, including two others belonging to the same owner.
- The condition only affects dogs but there is no evidence that it is contagious between dogs
- Skin lesions (sores/ulcers) – the vast majority of dogs with skin lesions will not have CRGV. However any dog with unexplained skin lesions especially on multiple paws or legs, and occasionally on the body, head or tongue, should see a vet quickly. If concerned the vet may suggest taking blood samples to rule out kidney involvement
- More information on the condition can be found at www.alabamarot.co.uk – a charity set up to monitor and fund research but please don’t hesitate to contact us with any specific concerns on 01684 572420
Your Questions Answered: Further information on the disease and how to recognise the signs
Information courtesy of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists
What is CRGV?
A disease causing damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidneys. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels, which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin this causes ulceration but in the kidney, it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
What causes CRGV?
The cause remains unknown. Investigations are ongoing.
How do I stop my dog from getting CRGV?
As the cause is unknown, at present it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. It has been suggested to bathe dogs that become muddy or wet on walks, however at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.
Where should I walk my dog to avoid CRGV?
We are not currently advising dog owners to avoid any specific locations and cases have been reported from across many different counties in the UK. Although an environmental cause for the disease is possible, it has not been proven with testing to date.
How will I know if my dog gets CRGV?
- Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin – particularly on the paws or lower limbs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth – are often the first sign of this disease
- It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV
- BUT the lesions from CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites – so if in doubt seek veterinary advice – if the vet is concerned a blood sample to check the kidneys may be done
How is CRGV treated?
- If your dog develops a skin lesion your vet will be able to advise you on the most appropriate management
- Your vet will decide if your dog needs antibiotics or if the area needs covering
- Some forms of pain killer (called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may be best avoided
- Dogs developing kidney failure (which is called Acute Kidney Injury) will need much more intensive management, including intravenous fluid therapy and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist
How is CRGV diagnosed?
Unfortunately diagnosis is currently only via post mortem examination
Can dogs get CRGV all year round?
Over the last 4 years, more CRGV cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter/Spring seasonality
Does CRGV affect other animals or humans?
CRGV has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected have not been affected by this illness.
Is CRGV the same illness as Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI)?
No – these are 2 completely separate illnesses causing different symptoms. SCI causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy with no ulcerative skin lesions.
Fundraising for Research
Research into new diseases requires a lot of funding. This pays for the development of new diagnostic tests, investigation into the causes of the disease and ultimately the development of more effective treatments.
Donations can be made to www.alabamarot.co.uk – a charity dedicated solely to CRGV