GIN has received the following information and advice from their vet regarding Alabama Rot:
Following the recent news on the BBC and in the papers about a mystery disease that has caused 17 dogs to die in the UK , we hope this information provides some peace of mind.
The disease is suspected to be similar to Alabama Rot, or to give it its full name “Idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy”. This was first seen in an Alabama race track in a group of training age greyhounds in the 1980s but has since been reported in other areas of the US with significant greyhound populations, but has also been reported in other breeds such as a Great Dane. It has been suggested that Greyhounds are genetically predisposed which is potentially why we see more cases in these dogs.
Cause: Vasculitis is generally caused by an abnormal immune response to an initiating event and in this disease the cause is unknown. E.coli has been considered but has never been traced either in the US or in the UK cases.
What can happen: the disease not only causes changes to the skin, but also causes changes to the kidneys which may not initially be evident to you clinically.
What to look out for on your dog:
– Lethargy, Increased water intake and increased frequency of urination, vomiting – may reflect signs of renal failure
– Fever (rectal temperature >39 degrees), Blood in the urine, vomiting, dark tarry stools may reflect systemic signs of vasculitis (inflammation of the vessels).
– Dark red or purple skin in well demarcated blotches on the limbs (hindlimbs>forelimbs), abdomen and groin regions. These can sometimes turn black meaning that the skin has died and the area sloughs.
– The skin may also appear puffy due to oedema.
What your vet can do:
– Examine your dog and assess the lesions
– Bloods – to check platelets and kidney values. It has been shown that a reduced platelet count is often the first sign in this disease process prior to any changes on the bloods for the kidneys.
– Urinalysis – to assess the concentration of the urine and to see if there is any blood in the urine microscopically which could indicate vasculitis.
– Skin Biopsies – to determine the nature of the skin changes.
– Manage the skin changes and treat the vasculitis medically with immunosuppressants.
Ultimately this is a rare disease but has become more common in the UK. It is not something we can test for prior to signs developing but close monitoring and observation of your dog is essential to pick up on subtle signs of systemic changes or skin changes. The skin changes often occur prior to systemic changes so check your dogs at least once a day.
If you notice a lesion or have any concerns, please either call your local vet for advice or a consultation.