A warning has been issued to dog owners after more cases of Alabama Rot were identified in the UK.
So far this year, the deadly dog virus has killed five pets in 2022.
The latest cases were identified in Bristol and Devon.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot was first found in the UK in 2012 and has mostly been reported by pet owners who walk their dogs in the countryside.
Most cases are reported during winter and spring when the weather is typically colder and wetter, and it is generally much rarer in the summer months.
It is otherwise known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV).
It damages the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys of dogs, which causes visible sores on the skin and can lead to severe organ dysfunction and kidney failure.
The disease has a 90 per cent mortality rate but the cause of the disease is still unknown, and unfortunately signs are often detected too late.
How many cases have there been in Dorset and the New Forest?
The New Forest is a known hotspot, with a serious outbreak of the rare disease occurring a few years ago.
There have been 22 boxes in the area so far.
Shaftesbury: Two cases – one in February 2018 and another in January 2015
Shillingstone: March 2015
Upton: December 2012
Poole: February 2021
Wimborne: Two cases – April 2015 and June 2014
Bearwood: February 2017
Ensbury Park: February 2017
Christchurch: Two cases- both in February 2014
Holmsley: Two cases – Holmsley January and February 2014
Burbush Hill: May 2014
Burley: May 2014
Vereley: Two cases – February and March 2013
Wilverley: December 2012
Rhinefield: February 2014
Brockenhurst: January 2014
Lyndhurst: December 2015
Lymington: November 2014
Who are Anderson Moores?
Dogs that develop Alabama Rot are normally referred to specialist veterinary practice Anderson Moores, based at Hursley, near Winchester.
They have been leading research into the devastating disease since 2012.
David Walker, American, RCVS and EBVS European specialist in small animal internal medicine, leads the team at Anderson Moores and is the UK’s foremost authority on the disease.
The disease, which originally appeared in the late 1980s, was first detected in the UK in 2012. It affects the kidneys and has a 90 per cent mortality rate.
The two new confirmed cases follow 28 throughout 2021 and 47 in 2020, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the UK to 284.
While Alabama Rot is often fatal, Mr Walker said the best chance of recovery probably lies with early and intensive veterinary care which may be best provided at a specialist facility.
What to look out for?
The first sign of the disease is often a sore on the skin which will usually appear below the knee or elbow, and occasionally on the face or at the bottom of the chest or abdomen. It can cause the skin to become red and the sore may look like an open ulcer.
The RSPCA recommends looking for the following symptoms:
– Skin sores, visible swelling, red patch or skin defects not caused by a known injury
– Changes in appetite, including reduced appetite, drinking more, vomiting and lethargy
The majority of visible skin lesions will not be caused by Alabama rot disease, and most cases of kidney failure will be a result of another cause, but if you are concerned your dog is suffering, you should seek advice from your vet as early detection is key.