An outbreak of a mystery disease in the New Forest has taken the lives of 17 dogs in recent months and has been identified as Alabama Rot by veterinary experts.
Including the New Forest, areas such as Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham have also seen dogs affected.
About the Disease
Alabama Rot has primarily been associated with Greyhounds but in recent times has been known to affect a variety of dog breeds.
The earliest and most noticeable sign of the disease is through skin lesions, typically showing below the knee or elbow, which begin as a slow-healing ulcer. The skin lesions may appear as a swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect in the skin (like an ulcer). Over the subsequent two to seven days the dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
Dog owners concerned with similar symptoms are advised to look out for wounds or lesions on the limbs or face of their dog, which will not heal and dog owners should take their dog to a vet even if the lesions appear on their legs, paws or face a week after a walk.
The source of Alabama Rot is as yet unknown with the Environment Agency ruling out any chemical contamination in water supplies in affected areas of the UK. Experts believe the disease is “very similar” to Alabama Rot, thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria. However, no evidence of this has been found to reinforce this theory from the infected dogs.
Speaking to BBC’s Countryfile BVA President and vet Robin Hargreaves said: “Dog owners in these regions will feel understandably anxious about the recent cases but it seems that only a very small proportion of the dogs walked in these areas each day have been affected. Owners should make sure they are aware of the signs and symptoms and contact their vet immediately if they have any concerns. We are keeping our members informed about the ongoing situation.”