What is Alabama Rot?

Key Message

“Although CRGV can be very serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low (56 confirmed cases across the UK between November ‘12 and May ‘15)” (3)

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot is a disease that is fatal in 9 out of 10 dogs.  Any dog can get Alabama Rot, anywhere in the UK. In the UK, between November 2012 and May 2015, 56 dogs have been confirmed with Alabama Rot (see map).

“Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV or ‘Alabama rot’) is a serious disease which has only recently been recognised in dogs in the UK. 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. Any age, sex, or breed of dog can be affected. CRGV is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. 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; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure). What is CRGV? CRGV is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. 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; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction
(kidney failure) ” (3)

What are the Symptoms of Alabama Rot?

The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions, ulcers or sores, not caused by any known injury. These appear on the legs, body, mouth or tongue (see column on right). The dog will lick at the sores. Within days, dogs get symptoms of acute kidney injury (vomiting, reduced hunger or unusual tiredness).

What causes CRGV?

“The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing. The disease has been under investigation by Anderson
Moores Veterinary Specialists (working closely with a number of other organisations) for almost 3 years. Many possible causes, such as common bacterial infections and exposure to
toxins, have been ruled out.” (3)

How do I stop my dog from getting CRGV?

“Unfortunately, as the cause is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. You may wish to consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.” (3)

Is a vaccine available for Alabama Rot?

On 14th May 2014 David Walker of Anderson Moores Vets said:

“We have been contacted by a number of concerned clients asking if a vaccine is available to protect against CRGV. Unfortunately the underlying cause of CRGV is not known and therefore a vaccine cannot be developed.”

What should I do if my dog has these symptoms?

If you see a dog licking any skin lesions, ulcers or sores not caused by any known injury, take the dog to a vet without delay. The vet will confirm whether or not it is Alabama Rot (most cases will not be Alabama Rot).  The quicker treatment can be started, the greater is the chance of your dog surviving.

As the disease is extremely rare, most vets will never have treated a dog with Alabama Rot.  So ask your vet to refer your dog to Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists – this practise have the best Alabama Rot survival rates.

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 and if the area needs covering. Some forms of painkiller (called non-steroidals) may be best
avoided. Dogs developing kidney failure (which is called acute kidney injury) will need much more intensive management and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist.” (3)

Where should I walk my dog to avoid CRGV?

“Cases of CRGV have been reported from across many different counties in the UK and we are not currently advising dog owners to avoid any particular locations. Although an environmental cause for this disease is considered
possible it has not been proven with testing to date.” (3)

How will I know if my dog gets CRGV?

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 this 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, so if in doubt it is better to seek veterinary advice. Even if the skin changes are caused by CRGV, many dogs will not develop
kidney problems and will recover fully. (3)

Can dogs get CRGV all year round?

“Over the last 3 years, more CRGV cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter / Spring seasonality.” (3)

93% of Confirmed Cases (4) of CRGV have been in Winter / Spring. CRGV cases are overwhelmingly reported during November to May.  Between November 2012 and May 2015, out of 59 confirmed CRGV cases:

Winter – Spring: November to May – 55 cases (93%)

Summer – Autumn: June to October – 4 cases (7%)
(Lancashire – Jun 2014; Somerset – Jul 2014; Burbush Hill, New Forest – Jul 2014; Leeds, Yorkshire – Sep 2014)

Does CRGV affect other animals or humans?

“CRGV has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected by CRGV have not been affected by this illness.” (3)

Why is the disease called Alabama Rot?

As the name implies, Alabama Rot was first seen in Alabama, USA in the 1980s.  Clinically Alabama Rot is known as idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy – or CRGV, for short.

What is idiopathic CRGV?

  • Idiopathic – Of unknown cause
  • Cutaneous – Affecting the skin
  • Renal – Affecting the kidneys
  • Glomerular – A structure in the kidneys which filters blood
  • Vasculopathy – A disease which affects blood vessels

Is CRGV the same illness as seasonal canine illness (SCI)?

“No – these are 2 completely separate illnesses causing
different signs. SCI causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy with no ulcerative skin lesions” (3)

Symptoms of Alabama Rot

In your dog are covered here.

Has Alabama Rot an Environmental trigger?

On 29th January 2015 David Walker of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists said that: 

“We do not know for certain if there is an environmental trigger for Alabama Rot.  Indeed, if there is an environmental trigger we do not know when, in relation to the development of clinical signs, this occurs (e.g. environmental exposure could occur one day, one week, or one month before clinical signs develop). Any information posted about geographical location may therefore not be that relevant given dogs are often walked in different areas.”

Sources

(1) Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists – Alabama Rot News

(2) Laura Holm and David Walker and others, Veterinary Record, March 2015 paper.

(3) Anderson Moores June 2015 CRGV Newsletter.

(4) AlabamaRot UK Confirmed CRGV cases.

33 Replies to “What is Alabama Rot?”

  1. Apparently, ‘no one knows’ of the cause or how to diagnose properly.
    Just been reading this blog, in my own opinion, the Alabama rot appears to be a violent MRSA disease probably from contaminated fungi in woodland or damp areas.

    I am only assuming this be the cause, although, ‘could’ possibly be linked due to feeding dogs contaminated meat or food treated with steroids for humans?

  2. Hi im from Australia Sydney and ive just stumbled across this. A while back my boy got something similar. Vet didnt know what it was. But all the symptoms sound the same. His skin was just falling off his nose and there were all these bumps. Sooo scary.. by the hour it got worse and worse started to go into his mouth. I was in total panick. Vet gave very very strong antibiotics and that at last started to work. Is it possible that this is Alabama Rot in Sydney?

    1. Our dog got something similar, his nose erupted in lesions which spread to his ears, eyes and mouth. Loss of appetite followed, along with lethargy and loss of muscle tone. He was diagnosed with lupus, which is incurable, we had him put to sleep 2 weeks after his first symptoms arrived. Absolutely devastated.

      1. Hi Christopher, I was just surfing the web when I was confronted with this news (http://nerdheist.com/uk-dogs-dying-from-alabama-rot/2/) that eventually took me to this website – Alabamarot.co.uk.
        I had an english bulldog who died 2 years ago. The initial diagnose that the vets made was a malignant tumor in his nose, that consumed almost 80% of his nose. They said that maybe was a really rare disease that comes from cats but they werent really sure. Now that I saw this webpage I’m almost 90% sure it was Alabamas Rot. He had the same skin problems months before the problem came and he passed away in January (During winter, has 93% of the cases).
        I’m from Portugal and the Vets said they have never saw something like that so I think it’s not only in US or UK. Please take care of your pups!

  3. We were looking after a close friend’s dog last week, which was ill and has since died of Alabama Rot. Our dog is a healthy young bitch, but tonight she has just alarmed us by jumping off her bed and wretching and coughing very deeply. Went on for about a minute and was completely unproductive. Absolutely no sign of lesions and no loss of appetite. She does sometimes bring up a meal for no apparent reason (not recently) but nothing like this before. Very frightening, but she seems calm now. We’re probably over-reacting, but should she see the vet?

  4. I have a German shepard, aged 9 She has patches of sores on her elbows and upper shoulder. She is always scratching them, so no chance to heal. I wonderedif it could some kind of dermatitus or skin problem. could anyone advise me. Sue Bromley kent Area.

  5. My dog has had some sore patches on his belly since late last year. They seemed to clear up on a course of steroids and now they are back. He also had spots on his chin but they have gone thankfully.

    We’ve been to the vets numerous times (no blood tests or any tests taken yet, he’s only just been looked at) and we are trying a medicated shampoo at the moment (vet thinks it may be allergies).

    Someone just pointed me to this website and I’m panicking a little bit however as this has been going on since Sept/Oct 16 could you just confirm that this is very unlikely Alabama Rot please?

    Thank you.

  6. I am sure my dog died of this after a walk in the new forest Burley – Mill Lawn he had a lesion on his leg which he kept licking – it wouldn’t clear up – vet said he was extremely ill and put him on a drip He had renal failure it all happened so quickly – a healthy 7yr old cocker spaniel. Vet was perplexed as to cause … this was earlier than most of the cases reported here though I think 2011

    1. Hi Mirella,
      So sorry to hear about your dog. What was your dogs name? Did your dog just walk at Mill Lawn or anywhere else up to a week before being taken to the vets. Who were your vets? Did your dogs’ case get reported anywhere online? Which month in 2011? The confirmed earliest cases of Alabama Rot were in December 2012 at Wilverley, Hants and Vereley, Burley, Hants.

  7. Hello, I work with animals my self and I meet many different dog owners everyday. This might be completely ridiculous but has anyone looked at the flea treatments these dogs were having? I’m only asking this because a lot of dogs that I have met have suffered with ulcers in their paws due to an allergic reaction to the new flea treatment advocate. Once they stopped using it the reaction went away its not just a couple of dogs either…. it’s actually quiet a lot.email Dr Charles for vaccine to cure or protect your puppy from Alabama rot

    EMAIL:oduduwaspiritualist@gmail.com

  8. Hello, I work with animals my self and I meet many different dog owners everyday. This might be completley ridiculous but has anyone looked at the flea treatments these dogs were having? I’m only asking this because a lot of dogs that I have met have suffered with ulcers in their paws due to an allergic reaction to the new flea treatment advocate. Once they stopped using it the reaction went away its not just a couple of dogs either…. it’s actually quiet a lot.

  9. Can people catch alabama rot my grandson worked for a garden centre at xmas delivering xmas trees since then his legs and arms are covered in sores that are infected he is constantly on antibiotics it start to clear then comes back. The doctorsare doing tests but they cannot find out what it is.

  10. Hi Viola,
    There have only been some fifty reported cases since about 2012, and no-one, least of all the vets, knows what is causing this. I know what the vets are advising, but until this gets cleared up, if I were walking my dog, I would not let it lap water from puddles either in forests or open land, and if my dog developed bare patches or lesions on the paws, lower legs and underbelly, and no lesions on top, I would take a guess that it’s some sort of contamination on the ground/in the undergrowth that is causing it. I would walk my dog somewhere else for a while and maybe also start washing his paws when I got in so that whatever it is not trodden into the house. I’m NOT advising YOU to do that, but it is what I would do, and I’d love to know why the vets recommended by the Forestry are not telling us something similar :0).

  11. Hi there — not easy to grasp all of this as there are so many different interpretations and ‘scare mongerings’. How far does one have to go? NO walks in the woods at all? And is this contagious from one dog to another? Or can a dog (fox etc) can be the carrier of spreading ‘it’? Most dog owners I speak to when I walk have never even heard of it. Not even through their vets…I’m in the West Sussex area. And what are the chances of this to be eliminated??

  12. An interesting article, however your sources quoted appear to be your own newsletters and your newsletters do not reference their sources. Other sites suggest links with a form of E Coli, you say definitely not bacterial…… but where does that assertion come from? Thanks

    1. Hi Sue,

      AMVS is not connected in any way to alabamarot.co.uk.

      >”Many possible causes, such as common bacterial infections and exposure to toxins, have been ruled out.”
      I referred to (3) Anderson Moores Vet Specialists (AMVS) May 2015 newsletter http://alabamarot.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/AKI-CRGV-NEWSLETTER-May-2015.pdf.

      AMVS et al March 2015 paper http://alabamarot.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Veterinary-Record-2015-Holm-vr.102892.pdf states that E.Coli and other bacteria, were tested for.

  13. Hello.
    Should I be concerned with the information below?

    I have noticed skin lesions on all 4 paws of one of my German Shepherd dogs, between his toes and between the pads of 2 feet. I have walked in woods which lie within the edge of the New Forest, Woar Copse of New Milton. A visit to the PDSA ( as on strict benefits) at Bournemouth was met with uncertainty, all I was told is the previous medication may of played a part, at that time nothing much was known of AlabamaRot. He was being treated for a Staphylococcal skin infection and only after he finished his medication did I notice the Paws; At that time only 1 of the 4 paws was infected, 1 month later all 4 paws show signs of sore, weeping skin ( I keep paws clean daily and waiting for DogBoots to arrive to keep his paws clear from contact with the ground ) another visit to the PDSA will be done ASAP. I have been informed 2 other local dogs have also shown signs of open sore skin within the last few weeks having walked in the exact same woods, having read your site thoroughly I understand there is no known CAUSE for this ( IF it is AlabamaRot ). I can be reached at anytime for more information using the above E-Mail.

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