Alabama Rot - Updated
Dog owners are not taking precautions against Alabama Rot because there is a perception the number of cases have dropped off according to the New Forest Dog Owners Group. In one case a local dog training club asked new dog owners about the disease and around half had never heard of it. However NFDOG says the danger is continuing and real. The disease is seasonal – from now until the spring, so owners tend to get a bit complacent about it during the summer. Cases have been reported already this autumn in Wiltshire and Devon as well as in Berkshire.
Over the last decade, hundreds of dogs have died after contracting Alabama Rot (CRGV), and the New Forest was known hotspot. The disease is believed to be transmitted through cuts and abrasions while walking in contaminated open wet areas.
“Local dog owners should still take care and keep a close eye on their pets,” says Heather Gould, Chair of the New Forest Dog Owners Group. “Many professionals suggest it may help to wash the dogs’ feet and legs, preferably with cold tap water, after walking in open areas. If a dog acts in a strange way, licks a lesion or cut on its legs, is lethargic, or appears ill, it’s important to get your vet to assist as soon as possible.”
Research is continuing to find a cause, and the New Forest Dog Owners Group has raised tens of thousands of pounds to support this work. One current line is to discover for definite if this is a new disease to the UK in recent years – or has been around and unrecognised for a longer period.
Veterinary surgeon and CRGV researcher Dr Fiona Macdonald whose work NFDOG has supported, says research is continuing on the potential cause of this disease as well as to trace its history. Much of this work is being carried out at the Bristol University Veterinary School.
“The incidence of Alabama Rot or CRGV has been relatively low in the local area but sporadic cases still occur throughout the UK between October and April”, says Janine Redman, lead vet at the Forest Lodge practice in New Milton and Lymington, and a Committee Member of NFDOG. “The cause remains unknown despite research, but the disease is still invariably fatal in many instances.”
“As there is no known infectious agent it is difficult to give advice to help prevent its occurrence but it is a sensible precaution to wash your dog down, and especially their legs and feet, after walks in the Forest.”
Dog owners can find out more information at the NFDOG website, www.nfdog.org.uk which will update when news about CRGV emerges.
Update - January 2021
Following reports of a possible case of Alabama Rot, the New Forest Dog Owners Group is again reminding dog owners to take care. Chair of NFDOG, Heather Gould says: “This probable case of ‘Alabama Rot’ is serious and worrying for all dog owners, not least as it’s been a couple of years since the last outbreak in the New Forest. But it’s never entirely gone away and already this winter there were confirmed cases in Wiltshire, Berkshire and Surrey. The experts still aren’t sure about the cause of ‘Alabama Rot’, or its scientific name, CRGV. But we know it gets into the dog’s bloodstream through open cuts while walking on wet or muddy ground. Some people have identified Wilverley as a hotspot, but there isn’t any real evidence to show it’s there or any other specific part of the New Forest.
So the advice is simple. After a walk wash your dog’s feet in cold water, and pay particular attention to any wounds. If you suspect anything let your vet know immediately. Sadly most dogs that get the disease die. But to have the best chance of survival, if you suspect anything, the vet needs to know quickly so treatment can begin. The New Forest Dog Owners Group has been funding research into CRGV and we hope a cure will be found. Until then up-to-date information can be found at nfdog.org.uk.”