An outbreak of a lethal flesh-eating disease in dogs has pet owners terrified after 7 fatalities have been reported this year alone in Britain.
The vicious condition, known as Alabama rot, causes dogs to vomit and grow lesions on their skin. Kidney failure is a common byproduct that causes 80% of cases to end in the animal’s death.
Even more alarming is that doctors do not know what causes it and how to effectively cure it.
In the last four years alone, nearly 100 dogs have died from the disease in Britain.
According to Michael Barlow, whose dog, Lulu, was recently diagnosed with the condition, “A friend of mine who was walking Lulu while I was on holiday noticed she was off her food and subdued, and she had some small lesions.”
Michael’s account lends credibility to one theory suggesting that Alabama rot is acquired after dogs walk through infested mud, through which the disease is then acquired through paws and legs.
Unwilling to be a passive spectator, Michael has launched the charity “Stop Alabama Rot” to help raise awareness about it and find a cure.
In the meantime, local veterinarians are tending to Lulu’s health. As Michael stated:
Having heard the stories about Alabama Rot we wasted no time in taking her to the local vet where she stayed overnight.
The next day we transferred her to Anderson Moores vets near Winchester, as they are the experts when it comes to handling these cases.
We were initially told that Lulu probably wasn’t going to make it and we agreed there might be nothing to lose in admitting her to the Royal Veterinary College’s Queen Mother Animal Hospital in Hertfordshire, to undergo a non-guaranteed treatment called Plasma Exchange Therapy, or PET for short.
She underwent two rounds of PET and was kept in the intensive care unit for around three weeks.
Cathy Moss, 57, had to watch her “vibrant little dog,” Maggie, die “within the space of 36 hours.”
After eventually suffering kidney failure, vets said they could do a blood transfusion, but that this would only be a temporary solution.
“Some people would say she’s just a dog,” said Cathy, “but she was our dog, we had her since she was a puppy. It’s heartbreaking.”
The cause of Alabama rot remains unknowns despite extensive research. According to David Walker, a veterinarian in Winchester, “there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting it.”
Walker elaborated on the condition:
We want answers as quickly as possible because dogs continue to die from this disease.
The most important thing right now is to find the cause because then we can look at prevention and treatment.
One theory is that some dogs are predisposed to the disease and so when they come into contact with something in the environment they fall foul.