Vets have issued a new warning over Alabama Rot, a deadly fungal infection that has affected 14 dogs in the first four months of 2016, and 78 since 2012.
The disease first appeared in Greyhounds in USA in the 1980s but has now spread to 16 English counties, including Kent, London, Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Dorset.
When a dog has contracted Alabama Rot the first sign is normally a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury, usually below the elbow or knee, which appears as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or is open and ulcer-like.
"The cause of Alabama Rot, clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is still unknown and there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease," said David Walker, from Anderson Moores Vetinary Specialists.
Anderson Moores is now calling for all UK vets to contact them with any suspected cases of Alabama Rot.
“Only tests on a kidney from an affected dog (most likely post mortem) will give 100% confirmation of the disease,” added Mr Walker.
“There have been a number of cases ‘confirmed’ by vets, but unless we carry out analysis of the affected pet, we will never be able to confirm the disease.”
The firm Vets4Pets has launched an online interactive guide for dog owners to help them spot the infection, and to discover if there have been any confirmed cases nearby.
According to Dr Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, warned that treatment for Alabama Rot is only successful in 20-30% of cases.
“If a dog becomes affected the best outcome will probably come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering,” he said.
“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.
“This will help build knowledge about the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.”