Recently there has been a few more Alabama Rot cases popping up in our area and the people I speak to, were not aware the disease even existed.
So what is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot (Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy – CRGV) is a serious disease which has only recently been recognised in dogs in the UK. It causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth, which can look like bites, sores, wounds or stings.
Some dogs go on to develop life-threatening kidney failure with 70-80% of cases proving to be fatal. This disease can effect any age, sex, or breed of dog.
Since 2012 there have been 132 confirmed cases of Alabama Rot across the UK including the New Forest area where the disease first became apparent. Unfortunately the disease cannot be confirmed unless a fatality occurs.
Alabama Rot (CRGV) is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure). CRGV has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected by CRGV have not been affected by this illness in these cases.
Jessica unfortunately has experienced this disease first hand. With Molly and Pippa both contracting CRGV in 2015 and Pippa sadly passed away.
Pictures below of Pippa’s lesions
CRGV is treated symptomatically. Skin lesions are usually managed with antibiotics to stop secondary infection and daily blood testing is indicated to check kidney function. Patients usually undergo intravenous fluid therapy to help support the kidneys during their hospital stay. Urine output is monitored and urine is tested to check protein levels. If evidence of kidney injury becomes apparent then there are various treatment options, many of which are very invasive and high risk. Treatments include
• Plasma Exchange- A process in which the patient’s blood is removed from the body, separated and plasma removed and replaced for donor plasma.
• Plasma transfusions- In which donor plasma is infused into the circulatory system.
• Dialysis- Which uses an artificial device to clean the blood of waste products.
Unfortunately despite numerous treatment options prognosis is still very grave. If a patient with CRGV develops kidney injury there is a ninety percent fatality rate.
Moving forward she has worked hard since raising awareness and organising charity events to help fund research towards this unknown disease.
Interview with Jessica
Was you already aware of the disease Alabama Rot?
“Yes I was already aware of the disease, I am a veterinary nurse so had heard of the disease but had never seen a case first hand. As soon as I saw the lesions it was my first thought even though AR is very rare. It was a gut feeling I had”.
What was the first signs of Pippa and Molly contracting the disease?
“The first signs I noticed in Pippa was very slight lameness, so she was checked by a vet a day before the lesions appeared, all was fine and there was no sign of anything untoward so her slight lameness was put down to over excursion on a walk. The following morning Pippa was licking her leg and that’s when I saw the lesions, I kept discovering them as I was stroking her and there were 7 in total. The first sign in Molly was a small lesion that she was licking, she didn’t have any lameness at all. This was 3 days after the walk where they contracted the disease”.
Did they contract the disease at the same time?
“They were walked in West Wood, Marlborough, Wiltshire 3 days prior to the lesions appearing. I know this was the walk where they contracted the disease as my friends cocker who we walked with that day also developed skin lesions but has thankfully survived”.
What precautions do you now take loosing Pippa to Alabama Rot?
“Since loosing Pippa I am much more aware of how dirty they get on walks, but my precautions haven’t changed. They were both washed and shampooed with lovely bubbly warm water after that walk, if they are muddy I wash them like I always have done. Unfortunately it didn’t help Pippa but it may have saved Molly, we will never know”.
Has your dog walking habits changed after everything that has happened?
“My day to day dog walking habits have stayed exactly the same but I am more anxious going to new places with them and I avoid dense woodland but they still swim, get muddy because they are spaniels and that’s what they love”.
How can we help #StopAlabamaRot?
“Anyone can help stop Alabama Rot by spreading the word, donating and getting involved, mention Pippa to your friends, it may save a life if they recognise the symptoms earlier, go to www.arrf.co.uk to donate or find us on Pledge For Pippa.Stop Alabama Rot or @mollyandpipsandannie and get involved with fundraising. Any help would be much appreciated”.
Do you have any upcoming charity events?
“Our next charity event is the Pledge for Pippa. Stop Alabama Rot fun dog show on the 20th or May at the Bell Inn, Purton Stoke, Wiltshire, SN59JG, all details are on the Facebook page. We would love to see you there!”.
I hope this has helped spread a little more awareness and give you all an insight into Alabama Rot.