Update: 10th November 2014
We have now entered the time of year when cases of cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV or ‘Alabama rot’) have presented.
What is idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (‘Alabama rot’)?
Idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, otherwise known as ‘CRGV’ or ‘Alabama rot’ is a disease that has been known about since the late 1980s. It was initially thought to only affect Greyhounds and the dogs reported with the disease in the USA presented with skin problems, with or without kidney failure. Examination of samples of the dogs’ kidneys under the microscope revealed unusual changes. The cause of CRGV remains unknown although research is ongoing.
‘Squibby’ is one of the dogs who was treated for idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (‘Alabama rot’)
Have Alabama Rot cases been seen in the United Kingdom and does this disease only affect Greyhounds?
Since November 2012, cases of various breed, age and sex have been diagnosed with CRGV. Forty five dogs have been histopathologically confirmed to have been suffering from CRGV in the UK over the past two years. These cases have been identified in counties across the whole of the United Kingdom and some dogs have survived. The affected dogs have initially had at least one skin abnormality (also referred to as a ‘lesion’) of unknown cause.
What do the skin lesions look like and where have they been found?
Typically the skin abnormalities in CRGV have been below the knee or elbow, although they have also been seen on the face and bottom of the chest or abdomen. The skin lesions may appear as a swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect in the skin (like an ulcer). Over the subsequent one to nine days the dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness. Your veterinary surgeon may decide to take blood and urine to test and monitor for the development of this disease.
Is there any treatment for Alabama Rot?
Treatment involves aggressive management and monitoring of the kidney failure. The earlier this treatment is started the better the outcome is likely to be. Unfortunately a number of the dogs diagnosed with CRGV have not survived; however, the disease is not invariably fatal and some dogs can survive the disease.
‘Squibby’ was very lucky and went on to make a full recovery from the disease. She recently had a litter of 5 puppies.
If my dog is diagnosed with CRGV will other pets in the same household be at risk?
A small number of dogs within the same household as dogs diagnosed with CRGV have developed skin changes +/- kidney failure. If you have any concerns please speak to your local vet. There is no vaccine to protect against CRGV as the cause is unknown.
It is important to remember that this disease seems to only affect a very small number of dogs and that most skin abnormalities will not be related to this disease. Most causes of kidney failure are also not related to CRGV.
If after reading this article you have any concerns about your dog, especially if they have a recent skin abnormality (a swelling, patch of red skin or defect in the skin) of unknown cause, please visit your local Veterinary Surgeon.
Vets at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists have been leading the research and collecting case information and your local Vet may contact them to pass on your dog’s information with your consent.