What is Alabama rot?
It is a deadly disease that affects dogs. There were several cases in the New Forest in southern England last year. Cases have been reported in other parts of the country this year and here in Wigan Borough.
How many dogs in the borough have been affected?
We’ve been informed of two confirmed cases but there is likely to be more. Some local vets have suggested they have seen more cases and are waiting for confirmation. Alabama rot can only be confirmed by a post-mortem examination. This process can take as long as a month. It is thought more cases could be confirmed in the coming days.
If more cases are confirmed, does this mean the outbreak is growing?
No. It just means results of pre-existing cases are being confirmed.
What causes the disease?
The cause is unknown. The disease is extremely rare and very little is known about it.
Does it affect any particular breed of dog?
No. Alabama rot has affected a range of breeds.
Can it affect humans or other animals?
It is not a threat to humans and there’s no evidence it affects other animals.
How does it spread?
Again, this is unknown. It does not seem to be passed from dog to dog. It does appear to be associated with dogs that have been walked in wooded areas.
What should I look out for?
Dogs reported with the disease can suffer kidney failure and/or skin lesions. If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face, seek advice from your vet. This could be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Most lesions will not be caused by this condition, though. Alabama rot attacks the kidneys so look out for signs of kidney failure, such as if your dog starts vomiting or stops eating. If you have any concerns, contact your vet.
Is there anything I can do?
Keep your dog under close control in woodland areas and be aware of anything they might eat, chew or pick up. It may be worth cleaning your dog thoroughly following a walk.
Is there anywhere in the borough I should avoid walking my dog?
Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible to say where the affected dogs have caught the disease. Most of the cases appear to be focused in the east of the borough with the confirmed cases both in the Leigh area. Local vets have reported more potential cases in this area. The council is working with vets to share and gather information. That hopefully will narrow down possible infected locations but it will be extremely difficult to identify a precise location.
How worried should I be?
It’s important to keep this outbreak in context. Hundreds of dogs are walked around Wigan Borough every day and come to no harm. Only a tiny number have been affected by this disease. However, it’s really important dog owners are vigilant and if they have any concerns contact their vet.
What is the council doing about it?
The council has no powers or responsibilities in this kind of outbreak. However, given the significant public concern, we are seeking to provide information and advice. We have met with local vets and agreed to share and collect information with them.
Where can I find out more?
What else can I do?
The Animal Health Trust has launched an online survey to help with the national investigation of the disease. You can help by completing the survey whether or not your dog has been ill (external link).