Vets in Sidmouth treating a dog for a suspected case of Alabama Rot want to reassure owners the disease is rare.
Jurassic Vets, in Woolbrook Road, said they have identified a suspected case of Alabama Rot in a patient, and are urging dog owners to wash their pets thoroughly after walking in muddy woodland.
There have been two recent confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in Budleigh Salterton.
City Vets Exeter this week confirmed a patient from Budleigh Salterton had died of Alabama Rot.
East Devon News understands another dog with the disease in the Budleigh area has survived.
Jurassic Vets said it was possible the latest case was caught while the dog was being walked in the Mutters Moor or Tipton St John area
They are urging owners walking dogs in muddy woodland areas to wash pets thoroughly, especially in the valley of the River Otter.
Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, leading the UK investigation into confirmed cases of cutaneous renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), better known as Alabama Rot, said there have been 12 confirmed cases since the start of the year, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 216 since 2012.
Michael Crane, duty vet at Jurassic Vets, Sidmouth, said the disease, while ‘horrible’ was ‘rare’ – it begins with skin lesions then attacks the kidneys, which can prove fatal.
Alabama Rot is not contagious and cannot be passed dog-to-dog, or by pets sharing beds, the vet said
Mr Crane said: “This disease is given this horrible name Alabama Rot. It’s actually not that common and I think that’s what needs to be emphasised so people don’t panic.
“If you look on the map that Anderson Moores have got, I think there have been eight cases within an eight-mile radius of Sidmouth. That equates to one case a year.
“If you think about the number of dogs that we have got, and that go for walks, people can get this [worry]out of proportion.
“This is relatively uncommon. We may have had two cases in the last little while but if you go back historically those cases have not increased.”
Vets say the poorly-understood disease can prove fatal in 90 per cent of cases because it causes kidney failure.
Mr Crane said: “It affects two organs, the skin and the kidneys. Initially the dog may not show any signs the kidneys are being damaged. This is why we can’t diagnose the disease by simply looking at the skin. You have to take a blood sample.
“Owners checking dogs are looking for skin lesions. They are often painful skin lesions and they may become infected. They are often on the legs, the underside of the body, the face and tongue.
“We don’t know what causes this. There’s a lot of worry about walking dogs somewhere wet and muddy, but dogs have been walking in those places that are wet and muddy for the last twelve months, and in the last twelve months we have had relatively few cases. Yes, it’s a horrible disease but it’s relatively uncommon.”
He added: “It’s a good idea to wash the dog off and keep it clean for many reasons. It may – and it’s a may – reduce the risk of them getting this. It’s a horrible disease but at the moment we don’t know what causes it.”
City Vets Exeter this week confirmed it had a fatal case of Alabama Rot and the dog was from Budleigh Salterton.
The vets said the disease affects dogs of all breeds, age and weight.
Writing about the confirmed case of Alabama Rot on its website this week, City Vets Exeter said: “We still don’t know what causes Alabama Rot. Ninety per cent of confirmed cases have been during winter and spring.
“Cases of Alabama Rot have been confirmed in 43 different counties in the UK and we are not currently advising dog owners to avoid any particular locations.
“The majority of affected dogs have been walked in woodland. An environmental trigger is strongly suspected but has not been confirmed.
“Washing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy after a walk is a sensible precaution but it is unknown if this is necessary or of any benefit.”
- For veterinary advice on Alabama Rot, signs to spot and a map of confirmed cases, see here
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