January 2018 Update:
Veterinary Doctor Fiona Macdonald is investigating a bacteria she thinks might hold the key to identifying the cause of Alabama Rot. The bacteria is called Aeromonas Hydrophila and can be found in water and soil.
Dr Macdonald told the Veterinary Times that the first cases of the disease appear to have happened in colder areas with large amounts of water and high rainfall. The exact cause of the disease is still unknown.
Recently, new cases of Alabama Rot have been reported in Derbyshire, Leicester, Manchester, Birmingham, Cheshire and Cannock Chase. Pet owners are advised to regularly check their canines for symptoms and immediately take them to the vet if they suspect they might have contracted the disease.
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Alabama rot is a condition that affects dogs and although it is rare it has been in the news recently, with several newspapers reporting stories of dogs who have become sick.
We look at what Alabama rot is and what you can do to minimise the risk to your dog.
Find out how insurance can help if your pet suffers from an accident or illness with our guide to the best pet insurance for dogs.
Read on to learn more about these:
What is Alabama rot?
Alabama Rot, also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is a condition that affects dogs. While information is still scarce on the exact cause, it's thought to be linked to toxins caused by bacteria such as E. coli. Water and food-related causes have been ruled out.
Symptoms include lesions on the skin, especially on the legs, chest and abdomen, as well as in the mouth. These may look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Some dogs go on to develop renal failure (kidney failure), which can be fatal.
In the UK, the disease has proven fatal in 90% of cases, according to Alabamarot.co.uk, although it is rare for dogs here to catch it in the first place.
Alabama rot causes blood clots and damages affected tissue, including the skin and organs. The condition can become more serious quickly - sometimes within a matter of days - and dogs usually start to show symptoms of kidney problems.
What are the symptoms of Alabama Rot?
- Skin leisunes
- Skin ulcers
- Skin sores
- Hair loss
- Skin redness
If the dog's kidneys begin to fail:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive tiredness
- Yellowing of the white of the eyes
If you believe your dog may be showing symptoms you should contact your vet immediately.
How is Alabama rot spread?
There doesn't seem to be any link between a dog's age, sex, weight or breed and its susceptibility to Alabama rot.
At the moment, there is no consensus on what the cause of the disease is. Some veterinary experts think it may be a parasite, while others think it may be bacterial. As mentioned above, it is most widely believed that it is caused by the toxins produced by E. Coli.
According to this vet it does not appear to be contagious from dog to dog or dog to human. The toxins may be picked up from mud in woodlands.
Where has Alabama rot been found?
Alabama rot was first found in greyhounds in the USA in the 1980s. It was first identified in the UK in November 2012, and by January 2014 a wide range of breeds had been affected.
While there is a wide geographical spread of the illness across the United Kingdom, there has been a concentration of the disease in the New Forest. 25 cases of the condition have been found spread between Bournemouth and Southampton.
The condition has also been observed in dogs in Leeds, Yorkshire and even as far north as Cumbria and Scotland.
Here is a a map of confirmed cases of Alabama rot from December 2012 onwards. According to Alabamarot.co.uk, there have been 98 confirmed cases since then.
Can Alabama rot be cured?
Unfortunately, no cure for Alabama rot has been found.
Because the cause of the condition is unknown, specialists cannot develop a vaccine to prevent the illness spreading. Vets are able to treat kidney failure if it affects the dog, but this usually isn't effective enough to save the dog's life.
Some dogs can fight the disease and survive with minimal damage to their health. Unfortunately, the condition is fatal for most dogs.
How to avoid Alabama rot
There is no known way to prevent your dog from getting Alabama rot. Your best course of action is to monitor your dog's health, and see a vet if your dog develops any lesions.
It's possible that Alabama rot is more common in Winter and Spring than in other seasons. More cases have been recorded between November and May than between June and October. It may help to be more careful during these months, though it isn't confirmed that the illness is seasonal.
Does Bought By Many's pet insurance cover Alabama rot?
Bought By Many pet insurance will cover Alabama rot in your dog if you have purchased the policy before your dog has caught the condition.
It's worth considering getting pet insurance earlier in a pet's life so that any conditions they go on to develop will be covered. We do offer a Pre-Existing policy that covers some recently experienced conditions but its cover is limited and it can be more expensive.
We offer several types of pet insurance, including some unique policies:
- Fixed for Life It is only available to buy if your pet is under two and once you have the policy, it will never increase in price even if you claim.
- MoneyBack Our MoneyBack policy pays back 20% of your annual premium if you do not need to claim for the year, and it offers up to £7,000 of vet fee cover per condition each year.
- Complete This is the most comprehensive pet insurance policy on the market. It offers up to £15,000 of vet fee cover each year, dental cover as standard and up to £6,000 of cover for loss, theft or death.
Aside from these, we provide a Regular policy that includes up £7,000 vet fee limits and an option for no excess.
Find out more about all of our pet insurance policies here.