Dog owners are being urged to take extra precautions when out walking their pets this summer to help combat the deadly disease, Alabama Rot.
The mysterious illness, which first appeared in the late 1980s affecting greyhounds in America, has been found in at least 27 counties in England and Wales since 2012, with 78 cases confirmed in the UK and 14 being already identified in 2016 alone.
Scotland and Northern Ireland are thought highly likely to have also had cases recently, but both remain unconfirmed.
The cause is still unknown, treatment is at best 30 per cent successful and dog owners need to be wary of the risks to their pets.
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Now vets are working together, to increase awareness and help find the causes, including Alabama Rot experts Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists and Vets4Pets.
David Walker, from Anderson Moores, said: “The cause of Alabama Rot, clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is still unknown and there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease,”
“While there is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease, there is a very useful guide available online to help people understand where in the UK confirmed cases have been found and advice on how to spot signs.
“Any concerned dog owners should visit www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/.”
To help collate correct data for dog owners, Anderson Moores is calling for all UK vets to contact them if they see a dog they suspect has Alabama Rot.
“Only tests on a kidney from an affected dog (most likely post mortem) will give 100 per cent confirmation of the disease,” added David.
“There have been a number of cases ‘confirmed’ by vets, but unless we carry out analysis of the affected pet, we will never be able to confirm the disease.”
Vets4Pets, which has nearly 400 practices across the UK, is supporting the research work carried out by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists to help understand the disease, how it can be treated and possibly prevented.
Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: “The concern among vets in the UK is that, unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog,”
“Treatment is supportive, but is only successful in 20-30 per cent of cases, which is why we’re encouraging all dog owners to use the online interactive guide to help them understand the clinical signs and confirmed locations of Alabama Rot.
“The first sign that is normally seen is a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury. Most commonly these sores are found below the elbow or knee and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.
“If a dog becomes affected the best outcome will probably come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering.
“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.
“This will help build knowledge about the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.
“We would also encourage all vets and owners to work with David and his team at Anderson Moores so we can have a clear picture of confirmed cases in the UK, to help prevent more dogs falling victim to this terrible disease.”
To find out where in the UK cases of Alabama Rot have been confirmed follow this link www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/