The United Kingdom is currently being rocked by the outbreak of the mysterious disease: Alabama Rot. This disease is named after the US state where it was first diagnosed. Some Greyhounds in Alabama developed a rapid skin irritation and inflammation of the paws and muzzle. Only a few days later, this was followed by renal failure, which was irreversible and often fatal. We now know that this disease is not restricted to greyhounds, but any breed, age and sex can get ill with Alabama Rot. Unfortunately, there is also little known about this life-threatening disease.
The disease, which officially is called "idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy" is characterized by skin problems that may be soon followed by kidney failure. Skin problems may at first glance seem harmless and express themselves as irritations or sores on the legs, elbows or muzzle of the dog. Within days, however, acute renal failure which is often fatal occurs, and 9 out of 10 dogs with Alabama Rot die. Except in Alabama, the disease is also seen in England and Germany. Recently there have been two cases of Alabama Rot confirmed in England, and dogowners in Britain are fearing more outbreaks. Veterinarians can provide little information because there is still much unknown about this disease. Because the cause is not found, the treatment of the disease is currently focused on symptom management. Veterinarians recommend to bring dogs with sudden irritation without apparent cause directly to a veterinarian, and possibly to monitor renal function of the dog. Early intevention may increase the chance of surviving the disease.
Due to the lack of information makes it is difficult for veterinarians to indicate what to do for dog owners to prevent Alabama Rot. There is speculation about the usefulness of washing the feet of a dog after a walk, but there is no evidence for the efficacy thereof. On the contrary, at least one dog with Alabama Rot is known for an owner that did this all in order to prevent the disease, without success.
David Walker is a veterinarian in Hursley, England, and focuses on research into this disease. He is currently one of the main focal points for veterinarians across the country to take a client with suspected Alabama Rot. His clinic, Anderson Moore Veterinary Specialists is also committed to research into the cause and prevention of the disease. Research so far has shown that the disease is not caused by toxins or one of the many common bacterial infections. However, it is not excluded that it is a bacterium or virus, although heredity may also play a role. It is also known that more than 90% of the cases of Alabama Rot arose in the winter or spring, the other two seasons have a clearly less of a risk.
To date, Alabama Rot not yet occurred in the Netherlands.