Alabama rot dog disease cases mostly occur in autumn/winter

The BBC report Royal Veterinary College researcher Dr Kim Stevens who confirms that about 60% of cases of Alabama rot, which has killed more than 100 dogs in the UK, occur in the first three months of the year.

New research by Kim Stevens has started to try and discover more about the risk factors and spread of the disease. The cause of the disease, which first occurred in the UK in 2012, is still unknown. However, researchers have found there are more cases in autumn and winter. Most deaths caused by the disease have happened in Hampshire, Dorset and Greater Manchester*.

The disease causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth. Some dogs can also develop life-threatening kidney failure.

Dr Kim Stevens, of the Royal Veterinary College, said her research, expected to conclude by the end of the year, would not identify the specific cause of the disease. She said it was instead designed to look for geographical patterns, as well as environmental and climatic risk factors. A “very obvious” pattern already found was linked to seasons, she added:

“There are limited cases over the summer whereas everything starts to pick up in November and at least 60% of the cases occur in the first three months of the year, so it’s very much an autumn/winter pattern that we’re looking at.”

UK dog deaths from Alabama rot since 2012

Berkshire 2
Cheshire 4
Cornwall 1
County Durham 2
Cumbria 1
Devon 4
Dorset 10
Dumfries and Galloway 1
East Sussex 3
Greater Manchester 12
Hampshire 18
Kent 2
Lancashire 2
Lincolnshire 1
London 3
Monmouthshire 5
North Yorkshire 1
Northamptonshire 1
Nottinghamshire 2
Shropshire 1
Somerset 2
Staffordshire 2
Surrey 6
Warwickshire 1
West Sussex 3
West Yorkshire 2
Wiltshire 3
Worcestershire 5
Wrexham 1
Source: Royal Veterinary College/Stop Alabama Rot

*  from the list of dog deaths by county, 40 of the 101 confirmed deaths since 2012 occurred in Dorset, Hampshire or Greater Manchester.

Environmental factor triggers Alabama Rot in dogs with an intrinsic disposition

The Reading Conference on Alabama Rot tomorrow (Wednesday 10th May 2017) is being organised by David Walker from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists (AMVS).

In a 13-minute report on Sunday 7th, May 2017, David Walker spoke to Rachael Garside of BBC Radio Wales ‘Country Focus’ programme (from 6m 45s). He said:

  • In the 1980s only greyhounds in Alabama got Alabama Rot
  • No greyhounds in the UK have got Alabama Rot
  • Alabama Rot has not ‘spread’ – “it has been everywhere the whole time” since 2012. The localisation in the New Forest initially arose due to awareness of the disease by vets in that area since AMVS of Winchester had been talking to local vets. (8m 33s)
  • Damage to smaller blood vessels caused by blood clots causes organs, like the kidney, to fail and to cause skin sores, typically below the elbow or knee in dogs.
  • The true cause of the disease is not known, despite incredibly hard work looking for infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. We’ve also looked for toxins in the dog and the environment. (10m 06s)
  • Alabama Rot / CRGV has some similarity to some diseases in people so we can use this human data to consider how to approach the disease in dogs.
  • With 98 reported confirmed cases of dogs that have lost their lives across the UK since 2012, Alabama Rot is a rare disease. [8.5M UK dog population] (11m 06s)
  • “We strongly suspect there is an environmental trigger to Alabama Rot” (11m 06s)
  • Since hundreds of dogs will walk in an area but maybe only one dog will contract Alabama Rot, it may be that dogs that have been infected with Alabama Rot have some intrinsic predisposition to the disease and the environmental trigger.
  • Washing dogs legs after a walk is not scientifically based advice – but it can’t do any harm. (12m 02s)
  • We need more money to do research to try to improve survival rates and find the cause so that preventative measures can be introduced. (12m 57s)

“We strongly suspect there is an environmental trigger to Alabama Rot. It may be that dogs that have been affected have some intrinsic disposition to Alabama Rot…” (11m 06s)

In addition, Radio 4 Today Programme (from 2 hours 57m 30s) had a 2-minute report by Gabrielle Williams whose dog died in March 2017 and David Walker.