“Apologies for the long post, but below are my notes from the talk on Alabama Rot.
The main symptom is normally a lesion, and normally on the lower part of the body, including the muzzle and the tongue.
Effects any breed, although there are some breeds where there haven’t been any cases, and some more so, there aren’t enough dogs for them to be able to tell.
The lesion is due to toxins in the body forming as blood clots, which then block the blood vessels and stop blood getting to the kidneys.
The lesions are often circular, and ulcerated (very raw and sore), in some of the cases where the dogs had lesions but not the kidney failure the lesions were less sore and not so ulcerated.
The dogs tend to lick the lesion as they are painful and sore, they may also seem stiff, lame, go off food and vomit.
There is a seasonal pattern with the majority of the cases being from December through to March, with only a small number in other months.
The cases are now wide spread throughout the UK, and there have been cases from dogs walked in the forest, fields, parks and beaches. The only cases they haven’t seen yet have been from road walks.
The disease is somewhat similar under a microscope to two human diseases –
HUS & TTP. Both of these are being looked into , and the treatments used to treat these are being tested on the dogs, although nothing has been confirmed as a match yet.
HUS is caused by a E.Coli bacteria, TTP is a genetic condition.
They have looked into the possibility that Alabama Rot is caused by E.coli, but with all the bacteria they have tested so far, there hasn’t been any links found, however there are still E.Coli bacteria that they haven’t been able to obtain samples of.
There are a number of studies currently being carried out, the link to the 2 human diseases, E.coli link and another to a Fish bacteria with similar symptoms. They are also in the process of setting someone up to do a 4 year study on Alabama Rot, looking at all different angles.
They have ruled out the following;
- Wells Disease – most dogs with Wells disease responded very well to treatment.
- Lymes Disease – This is the wrong time of year, ticks are around mainly in spring and autumn.
- Giant Hogweed – Again the wrong time of year, and it doesn’t tend to cause kidney failure.
- Military Ordnance – The Environment Agency have done a lot of research into this and didn’t find anything, they also haven’t found anything in the kidneys of the infected dogs. Now the cases are a lot more spread out this is also no longer seen to be relevant.
- Radioactivity – The Clinical signs of Radioactivity aren’t consistent with Alabama Rot, they also feel that a lot more dogs would become ill if it was due to radiation.
- Spider Mite – Again they feel this is the wrong time of the year, as the spiders that can cause these symptoms are found in Europe and the winter here would be too cold for them. They also don’t have any reported cases from Europe.
There is no evidence that a dog can catch Alabama Rot from another dog, and that if your dog was with another with it then its very unlikely they could catch it.
They feel that it is an environmental trigger and seems to be (although not confirmed) linked to high rain fall.
75% of the cases presented with lesions, do not go on to develop kidney failure, however its quite hard to diagnose these dogs with Alabama Rot as there isn’t yet a test to be able to do so, it is confirmed once the dogs have unfortunately died and the kidneys are investigated.
If kidney failure does occur then sadly only 25% of these cases survive, this could be due to early treatment or that they respond well to the treatment compared to others.
What Next – Objectives for the research –
Define the Cause,
If there is a environmental trigger – what is it,
Are there any genetic abnormalities present in the dogs with kidney failure.,
Better Diagnostic tests
Optimal treatment Strategies
Identify a prognostic test – what is the outcome likely to be.
We can help by fundraising for the research, the New Forest Dog Owners Group help to fundraise for this cause. We will be looking to make regular donations as well.”