New Forest Dog On The Forest Off The Lead

Media report 'surge' in CRGV/Alabama Rot

The local and national media have been reporting (February 9-11, 2023) a ‘surge’ in CRGV/ Alabama Rot. This has been triggered by Winchester vets Anderson Moores (who specialise in the treatment) commenting on social media that there have now been more than 300 deaths since the disease was first noted in 2012, and a comparatively high peak this winter. They say the figure is a landmark.

The BBC initially, then other media picked this up as a local and national news story. Anderson Moores’ work on CRGV has been supported by NFDOG in the past, just as we support the continuing research at Bristol University Vets School.

The news story is dramatic. It highlights the fact that Anderson Moores have dealt with 10 cases nationwide since the start of this year. This compares with three nationally in the same period last year, and 18 in the whole of 2023. One theory is that the wet and warm end to 2023 allowed the bacteria to expand. We are grateful to Joshua Walker of Anderson Moores, interviewed for the news report, who has also taken the time to talk to us and provide some background.

Key to this is that Joshua has told NFDOG (confirming what Dr Fiona MacDonald has previously said) that the last recorded case of CRGV in the New Forest area (an owner from West Wellow) was in January 2023. There have been no further confirmed cases in the New Forest since then. It doesn’t mean we’re in the clear, and the precautions described below are important. But it provides context against the BBC story reporting a ‘surge’ in cases when considering the whole of the UK.

In the interview Joshua said of the cause of CRGV: ‘We simply don’t know yet. Work is going on all the time and we are continuing to research. We have many theories as to what could be going on, for example a bacteria or a toxin in the environment these dogs are exposed to’.

This is somewhat different from what Dr Fiona MacDonald has previously told NFDOG and others, that Bristol University Vets School have had promising results, isolating a bacterium which may be the principal cause of Alabama Rot. NFDOG has helped fund this work. This research is ongoing but remains very exciting as it may lead to the ability to create further diagnostic tests and guide treatment. Joshua says he/Anderson Moores are aware of this research in progress and are anticipating publications of the results.  

Joshua says he/Anderson Moores are cautious, awaiting publication of the full research report before accepting the finding (if). However, we feel the comment is unduly negative, neglects any progress after years of research, and fails to recognise those beyond Anderson Moores who are jointly doing this important scientific work. It is difficult when doing an interview to get all the facts in, and equally, the reporter will edit the report which can mean the quotes are selective and don’t reflect the whole engagement.

But in case this has worried you, rest assured the presence of this deadly bacteria locally is possible, but not probable. There have not been any cases in the New Forest in the last year, for which we’re thankful.

It remains really important, especially in the cold wet months, to continue to take precautions such as checking your dog for cuts and lesions, and if possible, wash them down with cold water after a walk especially if it’s been muddy. If you see anything odd and suspicious, do contact your vet immediately.