Alabama Rot: A veterinary report (29th January 2018)

Wear Referrals, a veterinary surgery in Stockton-on-Tees has posted a useful report about the serious disease Alabama Rot on their Facebook page – link.

For those who are not Facebook members, here is a copy of the post:

“The disease is usually first recognised by a skin wound, normally on the limbs but also occasionally on the trunk of the dog

Affected dogs will often subsequently develop acute kidney failure within days of the wound being recognised.

Other organs such as the liver can also be affected, and dogs can have lowered concentrations of various blood cells such as platelets (thrombocytopaenia) and red cells (anaemia)

The disease was first reported in Alabama, USA (hence the name) and more recently cases have been reported across the United Kingdom, including the North East. Any age or breed of dog can be affected.

Although research is ongoing, at present, the causative agent is unknown. It is suspected to be an infectious disease. At present, therefore, there is no test other than a biopsy that will lead to a definitive diagnosis

Biopsy and microscopic examination of affected organs can show changes characteristic of the disease, but obtaining biopsies is not always possible in very sick dogs because of the risks involved in anaesthesia and sampling already damaged organs.

A diagnosis is therefore often reached via exclusion of other diseases that can cause similar signs. It is very important to note that many other diseases can cause similar signs, and it is only the minority of dogs with skin and/or kidney disease that will have Alabama Rot.

Treatment of the disease is largely supportive, using intravenous fluids to help maintain kidney function, antibiotics for any secondary infections and other medications as appropriate on an individual basis.

Unfortunately, the prognosis for affected dogs that develop kidney failure appears to be very poor.

We are very happy to provide advice to your vets regarding any dog under their care that is known or suspected to have Alabama Rot.”

When walking your dog in wooded, muddy areas it is thought that thorough washing of feet and legs afterwards may be of use.  Also be vigilant and check your pet for the signs mentioned above. Early detection and treatment can result in a better outcome.

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