A new disease in the New Forest Area

There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about a new disease of dogs that seems to be linked mainly to the New Forest area.

This disease is believed to have killed 13 dogs in the last year. Some of these cases have been from other areas including Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham – a wide geographic spread.

The most frustrating aspect of this disease is that despite exhaustive testing, a cause has yet to be identified. One thing is for certain however and that is the Environment Agency have ruled out contamination of water supplies as a cause. However, veterinary experts now think that this disease is linked to so called ‘Alabama Rot’ which is the proper name for Idiopathic cutaneous glomerular vasculopathy. Now that is quite a mouthful!

Idiopathic means that we do not know what the underlying trigger is. Cutaneous means that skin lesions are present, whilst the remainder means that the kidneys are affected.

Indeed, many cynics would say that the longer the name of a disease, the less we really know about it!

However, the course of the disease when examined under the microscope is very similar to a human disease called ‘haemolytic uraemic syndrome’ or Alabama Rot.

In a proportion of these people, it is triggered by a toxin produced by a bacteria called E-Coli. However, this toxin has not yet been identified in dogs.

The main clinical signs of this disease are non healing ulcers on the legs and sudden onset collapse. Affected dogs appear to go into sudden life threatening kidney failure and require immediate veterinary treatment such as intravenous fluids, antibiotics and pain relief.

Please remember that this is still a very rare disease.

If your dog has skin wounds on its legs after a walk that do not seem to be healing, or indeed is suddenly unwell, make sure that you make an urgent appointment with the clinic.

Simon Robinson