The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2018)
Alabama rot or cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) is an often fatal condition in dogs. It was first identified in the US in the 1980s in greyhounds. The initial symptoms are skin lesions on the legs, chest and abdomen followed by renal involvement.
In November 2012 the first cases were suspected in the UK. In January 2014, the outbreak in England was identified as having the same or similar histological and clinical findings as Alabama rot, though this could not be classified as Alabama Rot as the histological results from the UK lacked the relation to E. coli that was present in all the cases in the US, although a wide range of breeds were affected. The suspected disease has been possibly identified across England and Wales, with a case being reported as far north as North Yorkshire in March 2015. A UK map posted online shows confirmed (with post-mortem) and unconfirmed (without post-mortem) cases of CRGV since December 2012. In May 2017 it was reported that 98 suspected deaths from the disease have occurred in the UK, including 15 in 2017. Local residents report 6 vet reported deaths in the Rivington area in Winter 2017/18 with 2 dogs still to have autopsies. One ongoing local study in 2018 finds a lethal outbreak following the escape of wormed deer in Adlington, England, of deer deemed unfit for human food. With no wormer maintained, bacteria or parasites could have spread naturally especially towards predatory breeds.
Signs and symptoms
Common symptoms of CRGV include, but are not limited to:
- Cutaneous lesions involving erythema, erosion, ulceration occurring mainly on extremities such as distal limbs, muzzle and ventrum
- Pyrexia (fever)
- Lethargy or malaise
- Vomiting or retching
Some veterinary experts theorize the disease is caused by a parasite, while others believe it is bacterial. It is more widely believed that Alabama rot is caused by toxins produced by E. coli but, as there has been no presence of E. coli in histological examination in UK cases, the disease is described there as suspected CRGV rather than Alabama rot per se. Because the exact cause has not been found, developing a vaccine is not possible. The cause of Alabama rot in the UK is under study as of 2013 at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester, Hampshire, but they do not explain why they are calling it Alabama Rot and not CRGV in accordance with histological findings. A podcast on Alabama rot was published in April 2014 by the Royal Veterinary College. As of February 2015 the Forestry Commission England will only publish specific site location details if "cases are confirmed as CRGV and a scientific connection to the dogs walked on the site is made".
A comprehensive report on CRGV was published in March 2015 by the British Veterinary Association, concluding that it is a disease of unknown cause "carrying a poor prognosis when azotaemia develops". However, an association has been linked to dogs walking on muddy ground.
Treatment is primarily symptomatic involving wound management of skin lesions and aggressive supportive therapy when renal compromise occurs. Some UK dogs with Alabama rot have been successfully treated since 2013. A webinar on Alabama rot by the Royal Veterinary College on 11 February 2015 was tutored by David Walker of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. As the disease is widely believed to spread via dogs' feet and legs, due to the current lack of treatment the best action is to avoid infection by not walking dogs in a suspected infected area.
In August 2018 sources reported that plasmapheresis (therapeutic plasma exchange) resulted in survival of 2 out of 6 dogs with advanced disease. This finding offers hope that such blood filtering could result in better survival rates, particularly if caught early before vascular and renal damage occur.
The number of cases in the US is not known, but it was confined to greyhounds and in many cases was not fatal; however, as of 2017 there had been 103 suspected cases in the UK.
Analysis by Felcana found that between 2018 and 2020, South West and South East regions had the highest proportion of Alabama Rot cases per 100,000 dogs in the UK.
From 2015 awareness of Alabama Rot increased significantly through prolonged support for both Anderson Moores and Vets4Pets, by Lymm-based communications agency, Bugler Smith.
The ongoing work involved regular updates on new cases through news releases and social media posts, videos, media interviews by vets David Walker and Huw Stacey, an online map with locations of all cases and the support of conferences to discuss the disease and its impact on dogs and dog owners across the UK.
It was primarily led by former journalist turned PR and communications expert Richard Knowles and over a period of six years saw hundreds of broadcast media interviews, including many on BBC, Sky News and ITV, which delivered 3.5 million visits to the online map.
There has also been thousands of pieces of media coverage across national, regional and local media outlets in the UK.
- "Signs warn dog owners of killer disease". BBC Online. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- "What is Alabama rot?". The Daily Telegraph. 21 January 2014. Archived from the original on 22 January 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- Carpent, J. L.; et al. (1988). "Idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy of Greyhounds". Veterinary Pathology. 25 (6): 401–407. doi:10.1177/030098588802500601. PMID 3212884. S2CID 29887065.
- Walker, D (23 March 2015). Important information regarding dogs with acute kidney injury ('Alabama Rot'). Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- "UK Map of Alabama Rot". 6 February 2015. Retrieved 27 March 2015.
- Jennifer Scott (10 May 2017). "Alabama rot: The dog disease with no cure". BBC News. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
- Primary research, Parasite? Rivington & Aspull, Dog Death Phenomenon Study, Galway & Jackson Animal Welfare, 2018
- Holm, L. P.; Hawkins, I.; Robin, C.; Newton, R. J.; Jepson, R.; Stanzani, G.; McMahon, L. A.; Pesavento, P.; Carr, T. (2015-04-11). "Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy as a cause of acute kidney injury in dogs in the UK". Veterinary Record. 176 (15): 384. doi:10.1136/vr.102892. ISSN 0042-4900. PMC 4413843. PMID 25802439.
- "Symptoms". www.arrf.co.uk Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF). Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Important information regarding dogs with acute kidney injury ('Alabama Rot')". Anderson Moores. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- Jasani, S. (14 April 2014). Alabama Rot-like Syndrome in UK dogs (and podcast). Royal Veterinary College. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- "Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV or 'Alabama Rot')". Forestry Commission England. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- Holm, L. P.; et al. (March 2015). "Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy as a cause of acute kidney injury in dogs in the UK". Veterinary Record. 176 (15): 384. doi:10.1136/vr.102892. PMC 4413843. PMID 25802439.
- "Alabama rot". www.thekennelclub.org.uk. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
- "Webinar: Understanding 'Alabama Rot'". Royal Veterinary College. 11 February 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- RVC announces Alabama rot breakthrough 1 August 2018 www.vettimes.co.uk, accessed 26 May 2020
- UK Alabama Rot risk may be linked to certain types of dog breed and habitat, BMJ Newsroom, accessed 26 May 2020
- "UK distribution of Alabama Rot cases by region". www.felcana.co.uk. Felcana. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
- "Alabama Rot in the UK – Frequently asked questions". Royal Veterinary College. 6 Feb 2020.
- "Richard Knowles LinkedIn". LinkedIn.
- "BBC Breakfast interview with David Walker". Alabama Rot.
- "Fresh warnings to dog owners after Alabama Rot outbreak". ITV News.
- "What is Alabama Rot? All the symptoms and map of UK locations - plus how to protect your dog". Daily Mirror.