(Idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy)
What is idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (‘Alabama rot’)?
Idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, otherwise known as ‘CRGV’ or ‘Alabama rot’ is a disease that has been known about since the late 1980s. It was initially thought to only affect Greyhounds and the dogs reported with the disease in the USA presented with skin problems, with or without kidney failure. Examination of samples of the dogs’ kidneys under the microscope revealed unusual changes. The cause of CRGV remains unknown although research is ongoing.
Have Alabama Rot cases been seen in the United Kingdom?
Since November 2012, cases of various breed, age and sex have been diagnosed with CRGV. These dogs have been histopathologically confirmed to have been suffering from CRGV in the UK over the past few years. The cases have been identified in counties across the whole of the United Kingdom and some dogs have survived. The affected dogs have initially had at least one skin abnormality (also referred to as a ‘lesion’) of unknown cause.
Alabama rot claimed the lives of 40 dogs in 2017 and 29 so far in 2018.
Figures show that 2017 was the UK’s worst year for cases of CRGV with the number almost doubling compared to 2016. However, part of this may be due to higher awareness and understanding of the disease.
Cases have been confirmed in Berkshire, Bolton, Staffordshire, Devon and Lancashire, and more recently cases have been reported in Brighton, Petworth and in March 2018 there has been a new case from Worthing.
What do the skin lesions look like and where have they been found?
Typically, the skin abnormalities in CRGV have been below the knee or elbow, although they have also been seen on the face and bottom of the chest or abdomen. 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 one to nine days the dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness. Your veterinary surgeon may decide to take blood and urine to test and monitor for the development of this disease.
Is there any treatment for Alabama Rot?
Treatment involves aggressive management and monitoring of the kidney failure. The earlier this treatment is started the better the outcome is likely to be. Unfortunately, a number of the dogs diagnosed with CRGV have not survived; however, the disease is not invariably fatal and some dogs can survive the disease.
Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists who are leading experts on Alabama Rot in the UK have advised dog owners to wash their dog’s paws, legs and bellies after walking in muddy or wooded areas particularly after heavy rain. However, there is no known way of preventing a dog from contracting the disease.
If my dog is diagnosed with CRGV will other pets in the same household be at risk?
A small number of dogs within the same household as dogs diagnosed with CRGV have developed skin changes +/- kidney failure. If you have any concerns please speak to us. There is no vaccine to protect against CRGV as the cause is unknown.
What causes it?
The cause of CRGV is unknown. Some investigators suspect a colder weather seasonal link, especially with dogs walked in muddy woodland areas or those with running or standing water.
Update March 2018
We have been notified of a confirmed case of Alabama Rot affecting a patient based in Worthing, West Sussex. This case did not conform to recent research in that the dog had not been on any woodland walks and had been well for several days. When it was seen by the vet there were two lower limb lesions and these subsequently spread.