Dogs Owners – Beware of Killer DiseaseKeith
Signs are to be put up in the New Forest warning dog owners about a mysterious disease that has killed 13 dogs across Britain in recently.
The Forestry Commission notices tell owners to take their pet to a vet should it develop lesions on its legs, paws or face.
Vetinaries say the disease – which can cause kidney failure – is similar to “Alabama Rot”, which was first seen in the United States back in the 1980s.
The source of the disease at this particular time is not known!
However, the Environment Agency has ruled out any chemical contamination in the water supplies.
Most of the dogs that got the disease in the past year were in the New Forest, but there were also other victims in Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham in the North East.
The notices say owners should take their dog to a vet even if the lesions appear a week later.
Alabama Rot had been associated with greyhounds, but the deaths in Britain in the past year have affected a variety of breeds.
‘Trigger’ unknownDavid Walker, from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Hursley, near Winchester, said: “What I would say is that if you see a skin wound on your dog then don’t just leave it. Seek teatment
“Ordinarily you might say I’ll leave that for 24 to 48 hours – I would say don’t do that, get down to your local vet.”
He added: “The dogs that have pulled through seem to be the ones that have presented earlier on in the disease course. However, that doesn’t hold true for all of the patients, and dogs seems to be affected in different degrees.”
Mr Walker said his practice first saw cases in December 2012 and since then vets had developed a “much better idea on what the disease is” – but the catalyst is still unknown.
He said it was “very similar” to Alabama Rot, which was thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. coli bacteria.
Lesions on legsBut Mr Walker said his team had “looked very hard” for the bacteria and the toxin in infected dogs and not found either.
Alabama Rot – the common name for idiopathic renal glomerular vasculopathy – only affected greyhounds when it was identified in the US in the 1980s.
The recent cases in England are different because various breeds have been affected – but Mr Walker said the “pathology [of the disease] is exactly the same”.
Like Alabama Rot, the first external symptom of the disease affecting dogs in England is lesions, usually on their legs.
More lesions can appear elsewhere on the body, and in some cases dogs can suffer kidney failure and die.