Chance of dogs dying from Alabama Rot in New Forest is 200 times greater than humans being killed by lightning

The New Forest National Park has 13.5 million visitor days a year – see table below. (2) Assuming 8% of visitors walk their dogs, there are 1.1 million dogs walked.  A further 37,600 dogs are walked by people who live in the New Forest (3). So 1,137,600 dogs are walked in the New Forest each year.

In two years, between December 2012 and December 2014, twenty four dogs dogs died of Alabama Rot in the New Forest (seventeen confirmed plus seven unconfirmed without post mortems). (4) So about ten dogs die of Alabama Rot per million dogs walked in the New Forest or a 100,000 to one chance of your dog dying from Alabama Rot in the New Forest.

However, there are more dog deaths from Alabama Rot in the New Forest than all the other fourteen National Parks put together. Why?

Could it be that vets outside the New Forest are largely unaware of Alabama Rot and therefore not reporting cases? Or because the New Forest has more woodland than other National Parks and Alabama Rot cases are often found in woodland?  Or because the New Forest ‘cluster’ or ‘hotspot’ of Alabama Rot simply occurs by chance? Do visitors dogs get Alabama Rot outside the New Forest which are attributed to the New Forest? Or does the New Forest have an unknown environmental factor that triggers Alabama Rot in dogs? Or some other reason?

Whatever the reason, more Alabama Rot research is needed on the epidemiology of this dreadful dog disease (5).

Chris Street of said:

“A dog has two hundred times greater chance of dying from Alabama Rot in the New Forest* as people have of being killed by lightning**. But Alabama Rot risk is still very very small – about the same chance as a pedestrian being killed by a motor vehicle***.”

* 12 dogs die of Alabama Rot each year in the New Forest out of 1.13M walked – a 100,000 to one chance
** 3 people die of lightning strikes each year in the UK out of 64M people – a 21M to one chance (6)
*** 333 pedestrians are killed by motor vehicles each year in the UK  out of 97M pedestrians (64M UK residents & 33M visitors)  – a 290k to one chance (8,9)


(1) (accessed 7th February 2015)
(2) (accessed 7th February 2015)
(3) 8% x visitor DAY = dogs walked.$file/new-forest-dog-study.pdf (accessed 7th February 2015)
(4) (accessed 7th February 2015)(5) (accessed 7th February 2015)
(6) (accessed 17th February 2015
(7) (accessed 17th February 2015)(8) (accessed 18th February 2015)(9) (accessed 18th February 2015)

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