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Alabama Rot strikes in Burgess Hill

Earlier this month we were made aware of a probable case of Alabama Rot in a dog visiting a vets in Burgess Hill.

We understand that their regular walks were in the Cowfold and Partridge Green area.

This is not the first case in Mid Sussex. There was a confirmed case in April 2017 in a dog walked in the area of Redhouse Common, North Chailey. But it is sad confirmation that Alabama Rot is active still and can strike anywhere in the UK.

The medical name for this condition is cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, which describes the symptoms, but is something of a mouthful! Alabama Rot is a kind of nickname borrowed from an outbreak of something completely different in the USA, so perhaps not an ideal choice, but easier to say.

Cutaneous means that the disease starts with an ulcer on the skin or in the pet’s mouth. This can be small and subtle, but usually is irritating to the pet, so they draw your attention to it by licking excessively.

This is the moment to act. Seek veterinary attention at this point, because within two days that dog may be collapsing with a potentially fatal kidney failure – renal glomerular vasculopathy. Only intensive care applied at the right moment can save their lives once this happens.

The cause of this disease is still not known, although research is in progress. If it is infectious, it is not highly infectious nor easy to catch. The total number of deaths in 2019 was only 29. Tragic for those families, but hardly a pandemic like human coronavirus.

It has not been seen in cats, people or any species other than dogs.

My advice to local dog owners is simply to be aware that a skin problem that seems small can progress to a very serious illness very rapidly. It seems more likely to occur on muddy woodland walks, so ideally wash mud off after each walk.

Look out for any skin swelling, red patches or unexplained open wound or ulcer. If in doubt, call your vet.

Image courtesy of Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists

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