Alabama Rot

Last week’s report in the Hexham Courant warning of a case of “Alabama Rot” (Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CGRV)) in Northumberland has caused great concern to local dog owners. I have spent some of the last week checking whether any confirmed cases have been identified in Northumberland. I have been in touch with local veterinary referral and primary care practices, and also contacted the Animal Welfare Office at Northumberland County Council.

To the best of our knowledge there have been NO CONFIRMED CASES of this condition in the area. Assertions to the contrary are, in our opinion, false.

Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin (particularly of the legs or paws but also the body, face, tongue or mouth) are often the first sign of this CGRV. It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV – other causes are far more likely. However, CRGV lesions can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bite; if in doubt, always seek veterinary advice. Even where the skin changes are caused by CRGV, many dogs will not develop kidney damage and will fully recover.

Information reached Northumberland County Council of a dog with suspicious clinical signs and kidney damage in the Cramlington area in January. Despite treatment, the dog died. Unfortunately a post-mortem was not performed. However, I understand that the veterinary surgeon involved does not believe that the dog had CGRV (“Alabama Rot”).

A diagnosis of CGRV can only be made at post-mortem examination. Cases where a post-mortem is not performed can only be classified as SUSPECT (source: Anderson-Moores Veterinary Specialists). The signs and illness progression of CGRV can be similar to other conditions and suspect cases may well be illness/death due to another disease.

Although an environmental cause for the disease is possible, the cause remains unknown. We are NOT currently advising owners to avoid walking their dogs in particular areas. We are concerned there appears to be a lot of scaremongering going on. Social media can create fear and worry when posts from different sources can make a very rare problem seem a big risk. Although CRGV is a very serious and unpleasant disease, only 152 dogs have been CONFIRMED with the disease nationally since November 2012 (source: Anderson-Moores Veterinary Specialists). To put this in perspective, thousands of dogs have died from Parvovirus in the UK during the same period.

The Anderson-Moores website ( is an excellent resource for further reliable and up-to- date information.

It is always best to call us if you remain concerned. We will keep both our clients and Courant readers notified of any further information that becomes available.

Kind Regards,

Tim Pearson, BVMS, MVM, MRCVS
Clinical Director
Orchard House Veterinary Centre


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