‘Alabama rot’ in the UK – Frequently asked questions
What is Alabama rot?
In the past five years there has been emergence of a condition called cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), otherwise known as ‘Alabama rot’. This condition was first reported in greyhounds in the 1980s and results in tiny blood clots forming in small vessels. This can lead to skin ulcers, but in more severe cases, when these micro-clots form within the kidney, it can lead to acute kidney failure.
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What should I look out for?
Dogs affected by CRGV typically present with a skin ulcers on their legs or paws although some dogs have shown ulcer(s) on their head, muzzle, tongue, flank and belly. The ulcers vary in severity and can look as simple as a small cut or area of redness that could be mistaken for a cut pad, bruise or sting. It is important to remember that most skin ulcers will not be caused by CRGV.
In some dogs the skin ulcer is the only sign that develops and these dogs can make a full recovery without developing kidney problems. However, some dogs will develop kidney failure. This typically occurs within 1-9 days of first noticing the skin ulcer(s). Signs to be concerned about would include lethargy, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased thirst or decreased urination.
If your dog develops an unexpected skin ulcer it is recommended that you seek veterinary advice.
How do I stop my dog from getting CRGV?
Unfortunately, as the cause of CRGV is unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice on prevention. You may wish to consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.
Where should I walk my dog to avoid CRGV?
Initially cases appeared to be localised to the New Forest area. However, this is no longer the case and dogs suspected or confirmed to have CRGV have come from all over the UK. Although an environmental cause for this condition has not been excluded, currently, there are no recommendations to avoid walking your dog in particular areas.
For the latest information on distribution of cases please go to http://www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/
How common is CRGV?
Between November 2012 and March 2018 there have been 153 confirmed cases of CRGV. A seasonal distribution is reported with most cases occurring between November and May each year. It is important to remember that compared to other problems that we see in dogs, this is still a very rare condition.
What causes CRGV?
Although there have been numerous suggestions about potential causes for CRGV, despite investigations, the cause remains unknown.
What type of dogs are affected by CRGV?
Unlike the early reports which affected mainly greyhounds, the current cases of CRGV in the UK have affected dogs of many different breeds, both large and small and of any sex and with a wide age range. There have been reports of multiple dogs from the same household being affected by CRGV.
What is the treatment for CRGV?
Unfortunately, because the underlying cause of CRGV is still unknown there is no specific treatment. Depending on the severity of the skin ulcer and level of suspicion for CRGV, your veterinary surgeon may recommend treatment for the skin ulcer and also early monitoring of kidney function with blood and urine tests.
For dogs that develop kidney problems then it is likely that supportive treatment will be required for your dog in the hospital and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist. At RVC Small Animal Referrals, advanced supportive care options including plasma exchange and dialysis are available and may be considered for dogs with CRGV in specific circumstances. We would be pleased to discuss these options with your veterinary surgeon.
Can other animals be affected?
To date there are no reports of animals other than dogs being affected and no illness has been reported in humans or owners of affected dogs.
How can I help and what research is on-going to help us understand this condition better?
In order to improve the diagnosis and management of patients with CRGV it is vital that research is performed to understand what causes this condition and whether there are any environmental or lifestyle factors that influence the disease. In order to facilitate this there are a number of different studies which are on-going at the Royal Veterinary College in conjunction with colleagues at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. Research is costly both in terms of time and finance, therefore one of the ways that you can help us fight this condition is to consider fund-raising or donations to help support this work.
The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) is a national charity aiming to raise awareness and funds for Alabama Rot (CRGV) research: www.arrf.co.uk
Donations can also be made to the Animal Care Trust https://www.rvc.ac.uk/act