Alabama Rot Is Back, And It’s Spreading — Here’s What You Should Know

Alabama Rot is once again making a resurgence, and all breeds of dogs are at risk.

The disease was first linked to Greyhound tracks in Alabama in the mid-1980s and spread throughout the U.S., PetHelpful reports. First known by the official name, cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), the colloquial term, “Alabama Rot” has since developed.

Where is it spreading?

The original strain of the disease was not transmitted outside of the Greyhound breed. The return of Alabama Rot appears to have mutated, however, and is not specific to one particular breed.

It’s spreading, and every breed is at risk.

The Resurgence of Alabama Rot

Though the disease’s impact had diminished in the United States, Alabama Rot has made a startling comeback in the UK. Since its first detection in 2012, there have been 292 confirmed cases, Countryfile reports. While still relatively rare, cases have surged since the 1980s, with 11 new cases reported in 2022. Since then, two more cases have already emerged in 2023. Although the disease remains more prevalent during the muddy winter months, its year-round threat necessitates continuous awareness.

Source: PxHere Now, Alabama Rot is spreading to other breeds.
Source: PxHere
Now, Alabama Rot is spreading to other breeds.

The Symptoms of Alabama Rot

Symptoms of Alabama Rot include oozing skin sores and deterioration in the blood vessels, skin, and kidneys, the RSPCA reports, eventually leading to kidney failure and tissue death.

The Source Remains a Mystery

Despite rigorous investigation, the exact cause of Alabama Rot remains elusive, Evolution Animal Care reports. While chemical contamination in water supplies has been ruled out, experts speculate that the disease may be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria, Cedar Veterinary Group reports, but have yet to find concrete evidence.

Alabama Rot first affected greyhounds in the Southern U.S. in the mid 1980s, but it has since moved on to other breeds.
Source: GraceTheGreyhound, Wikimedia Commons / Neurodoc, License: CC BY-SA 3.0 DEED
Alabama Rot first affected greyhounds in the Southern U.S. in the mid 1980s, but it has since moved on to other breeds.

Dr. Fiona Macdonald, a doctor who works primarily with fish, has another theory. Macdonald has seen a similar condition, aeromonas hydrophily, in in fresh and saltwater fish.

“So far we have found antibodies to this organism in over half of the 29 recovered/suspected cases examined, as well as recovering the actual organism from an active skin lesion,” Macdonald told The Independent.
“Although these are only preliminary results from a relatively small number of cases, this is very encouraging.”

It’s possible that dogs playing around wet areas may come in contact with the same bacteria.

Staying informed and vigilant is key to protecting pets from Alabama Rot.
Photo: Pexels
Staying informed and vigilant is key to protecting pets from Alabama Rot.

Treatments for Alabama Rot

Alabama Rot is a serious disease, necessitating immediate veterinary attention. Pet owners who suspect their animals may have contracted the disease need to act fast.

“When a dog does have it, it’s very serious even with the best medical care,” Dr. Huw Stacey, a vet and the director of clinical services at Vets4Pets told Country Living. “Only about two in 10 dogs pull through with everything we can do for them.”

Source: Max Pixel Alabama Rot may be contracted in wet woodland areas.
Source: Max Pixel
Alabama Rot may be contracted in wet woodland areas.

No vaccines have yet been developed for Alabama Rot, but veterinarians are not without options, either.

“If your dog seems unwell or you see any wounds on their limbs or anywhere on the body you can’t be certain you can explain, definitely get it checked out with your vet,” Stacey said.

Knowing the warning signs of Alabama Rot is currently the best way to help doctors treat the disease effectively.

The Importance of Early Intervention

Alabama Rot is a formidable adversary, but early intervention can improve the odds of recovery.

Although the disease remains challenging to treat, prompt action significantly enhances a dog’s chances, Anderson Moores. While some infected dogs do survive treatments for skin sores and kidney failure, others may not be as fortunate. Treatment success rates hover around 20-30%. It’s vital not to succumb to undue worry, as the percentage of dogs contracting this disease is minuscule in the UK. However, understanding the problem and recognizing the signs could prove lifesaving for your beloved pet.

Early intervention is crucial for treatment if your dog has Alabama Rot.
Photo: Pexels
Early intervention is crucial for treatment if your dog has Alabama Rot.

How can Alabama Rot be prevented?

Alabama Rot is contained to small parts of the U.K. but it is spreading. With a little preventative maintenance, pet owners can keep it from affecting their animals.

Veterinarians advise owners to clean mud off their animals and look for signs of sores after walks. It’s still fine to take pets out, even after a rain, but, Stacey says, it’s important to be vigilant.

Near areas where the disease has been reported, keeping dogs away from woodland areas where Alabama Rot could be prevalent can help reduce the risks of spreading the disease, Medivet reports.

Source: Pexels Alabama Rot is contained to small areas in England, but it is spreading.
Source: Pexels
Alabama Rot is contained to small areas in England, but it is spreading.

“From the cases we have seen in the New Forest it could be linked to woodland, but we cannot say,” Graeme Pack, clinical director at Purton Veterinary Group in Swindon, Wiltshire, told the Daily Mail. “My advice, which I am undertaking with my own dogs, is not to walk in woodland and to always wash the mud off your dog after a walk. But I don’t want dog owners to panic and think they can never let their dogs out.”

In the face of this enigmatic disease, staying informed and vigilant is your best defense. By spotting the signs early, seeking prompt veterinary care, and practicing good hygiene, you can help protect your cherished canine companion from the shadow of Alabama Rot.

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