What causes Alabama Rot? How can it be prevented? By Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists.

David Walker and Laura Holm of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists update the Alabama Rot story (April 2016). Anderson Moores say:-

Is CRGV caused by E.coli? Faeces, skin lesions, and kidneys of dogs with CRGV have been tested for E.coli, which can cause a similar illness (haemolytic uraemic syndrome, or HUS) in people. No E.coli have been found. Kidneys from affected dogs have been tested for Shiga toxin produced by E.coli – NONE has been found. Blood from affected dogs has been tested for antibodies to E.coli which cause HUS – NONE have been identified. So can we completely exclude E.coli? – Unfortunately not quite yet, because these bacteria and their toxins can be very difficult to isolate / identify, however, it currently appears to be an unlikely cause. Investigations are ongoing …”

Anderson Moores ask:-

“What other possible causes for CRGV have been investigated?”

“Is it Leptospirosis? (Weils disease)
Most dogs with CRGV were negative when tested for Leptospirosis and many were vaccinated against Leptospirosis (which helps to protect against infection with Leptospira).
Additionally, most dogs which have Leptospirosis respond well to treatment, as opposed to the poor response to therapy seen with CRGV.”

“Is it Lymes Disease? (carried by ticks)
Ticks are active in Spring and Autumn, rather than Winter (so the wrong time of year for CRGV). Some signs of Lymes disease are similar, but most importantly, the microscopic changes (pathology) in the kidney are totally different from CRGV.”

“Giant Hogweed?
This grows in summer. It causes nasty skin lesions in sun light, but is not associated with acute kidney failure. Recent work by [a] senior botanist suggests that it is unlikely for any plants,
trees, fungi, or shrubs to cause CRGV.”

“Fish bacteria? (Aeromonas).
This is currently under investigation. Aeromonas produces a toxin (a bit like E.coli) which could cause CRGV. Aeromonas cause disease in fish, including skin lesions. There is a study checking for evidence of Aeromonas infection in dogs with CRGV.”

“Military Ordnance?
There has been no evidence for heavy metals, bacteria, or toxins in soil or water samples tested from the New Forest, and none identified in kidneys of affected dogs.”

“Radioactivity?
The clinical signs of CRGV are not consistent with radiation poisoning. Radiation would affect all dogs equally in an affected area, which is not what we see with CRGV.”

Anderson Moores say:-

“How can CRGV be prevented? As the cause remains unknown it is very difficult to advise how best to avoid CRGV.

Washing dogs after a walk (using tepid water) might be a sensible precaution but it is unknown as to whether this is either necessary or of any benefit (please do not use strong antiseptics / disinfectants or other chemicals to bathe dogs. This could be harmful.)

There is no evidence that dogs can catch CRGV from each other (dogs which walked together were more likely to all be affected than dogs which lived together but did not go on the same walks). There is no evidence that they can catch it from a place where an infected dog has been (e.g. the vets, the dog groomer, or the boarding kennel).

It is possible that there is an environmental ‘trigger’ but this is currently unknown. It is therefore up to each individual dog walker to decide whether to avoid certain types of terrain, or certain areas.”

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