Flesh eating bug Alabama Rot could be a risk for dogs all-year round, warn vets
Vets are warning millions of dog owners across the UK to be on the lookout for Alabama Rot following three new deaths.
The flesh-eating bug, which causes painful sores and kidney damage, had previously been common between November and February and usually kills.
But after three dogs died this summer, vets fears that it's becoming an all-year round issue for the UK's 8.9 million dog population.
The deaths have occurred in Mullion, Cornwall, Ivybridge, Devon, and Manningtree, Essex.
The dog in Manningtree fell ill following a holiday in Gloucestershire, where there have been other reported cases.
Highcliff vets' practice in Brantham, on the Essex-Suffolk border, released photos of sores on the dog's leg, with the owners' permisison.
First discovered in Alabama in the 1980s when greyhounds began dying, it has led to the deaths of hundreds of dogs worldwide.
In total, the UK has now seen 189 confirmed cases across 39 counties since 2012, with 52 cases last year – the most serious outbreak was in the New Forest in Hampshire.
There is no vaccine and it can affect any dog of any breed, age or size. Early signs include sores, commonly spotted on paws or lower legs.
Vets advise checking your dog’s body daily for lumps and bumps.
In a Facebook post, Highcliff Vets said: "Sadly the condition proved fatal for this beautiful dog, as it does for more than 85% of dogs that are known to have been affected by CRGV (Alabama Rot) and go on to develop kidney failure."
A spokesman at the surgery said: "No-one can know whether the condition was contracted locally or whilst the dog was on holiday in Gloucestershire.
"Although an environmental trigger is suspected as a factor in this disease, it is important to point out that this has not been confirmed."
One of the key symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions which can affect the lower limbs and their mouth and tongue.
Dr David Walker, a leading expert on the disease, who works for Anderson Moores vets in Winchester, said owners should not be put off taking their dogs into fields and woods, despite the risks.
He said there's a guide online to help people understand UK confirmed cases and to find advice about how to spot signs.
"There is a suggestion that there is an environmental factor, we don't have clear evidence to back that up," he said. He encouraged owners to wash down dogs after a walk.
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