Alabama Rot - an unexplained dog illness
July 2014 update
The number of dogs affected by Alabama Rot seems to be decreasing as the year progresses with the last confirmed case being in early June 2014.
A manuscript summarising the findings will be submitted by veterinary specialists this month with publication anticipated later in the year.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot is a disease that has been known about since the late 1980s in the USA. Since December 2012 a number of suspected and confirmed cases have been seen in counties throughout the UK. Dogs reported with the disease can suffer kidney failure and/or skin lesions. The cause of the disease remains unknown. The disease does not appear to pass from dog to dog.
To see cases to date, please visit www.forestry.gov.uk/alabamarot
Although the problem is being treated very seriously, many thousands of dogs are walked in the countryside every day and it is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected.
What should I be looking out for in my dog?
If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to 7 days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, then you should seek veterinary attention. This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Most lesions will not be caused by this condition. Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.
The Animal Health Trust has launched an online survey to help with the investigation. You can help by completing the survey whether or not your dog has been ill: www.aht.org.uk/alabamarot.
Fund to facilitate further investigations in the New Forest
Current research has been supported with financial assistance from New Forest District Council, Forestry Commission, Bridge Pathology and Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. A large amount of work has also been performed on a good will basis by interested scientists.
To help facilitate further investigations into this disease, New Forest Dog Owners Group has decided to set up a fund and collect donations. The fund will be opened with a donation of £2,000 from NFDOG and all contributions are welcome.
You can donate via the NFDOG website at: www.newforestdog.org.uk/researchfund
Alternatively, please send a cheque, made payable to NFDOG Research fund, to Hon. Treasurer, Woodcote, Balmer Lawn Road, Brockenhurst, SO42 7TT.
Tests were carried out in 2013 on both the environment and the affected dogs. All of the more common, well-known causes of acute kidney failure were excluded in all of the dogs. Detailed further investigations have been performed on blood, urine, faeces and post mortem tissue. This has included bacterial (including e-coli), viral, and heavy metal testing, which has been negative. Additionally, kidney tissue has been examined by a number of Veterinary pathologists and human nephropathologists (specialist kidney pathologists). Water testing for hazardous chemicals in the New Forest was also performed. Testing is ongoing and any significant results will be made available.