A CRGV committee comprising veterinary medicine clinicians and epidemiologists has been established to lead ongoing research into cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, commonly known as Alabama Rot. A group of human and veterinary specialists recently met for the first ever CRGV conference held in Reading in May this year. An update on the current situation was discussed at the Conference, as well as possible avenues for ongoing research, disease surveillance and data collection. As a direct result of the conference, the CRGV committee was established.
What is CRGV?
CRGV is a disease of dogs, in which ulceration of the skin and, in some cases, kidney damage are seen. The disease is caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney, which leads to tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels. This blocks the blood vessels and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to a form of kidney failure known as acute kidney injury (or AKI). The skin ulcers are most commonly seen on the limbs and face and in the oral cavity.
What causes it?
The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing.
How do I stop my dog from getting it?
Unfortunately, as the cause is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. You may wish to consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.
Where should I walk my dog to avoid the disease?
Cases of CRGV have been reported from across many different counties in the UK and we are not currently advising dog owners to avoid any particular locations. Although an environmental cause for this disease is considered possible it has not been proven with testing to date.
How will I know if my dog is affected?
Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin (particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth) are often the first sign of this disease. It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV; however, the lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites, so if in doubt it is better to seek veterinary advice.
Even if the skin changes are caused by CRGV, many dogs will not develop kidney problems and will recover fully.
How is CRGV treated?
If your dog develops a skin lesion, your vet will be able to advise you on the most appropriate management. Your vet will decide if your dog needs antibiotics and if the area needs covering. Some forms of painkiller (called non-steroidals) may be best avoided.
Dogs developing acute kidney injury will need much more intensive management and your vet may discuss referral to a specialist with you.
How Many Dogs Have Been Affected?
Between November 2012-October 2013, there were 10 confirmed cases
Between November 2013-October 2014, there were 30 confirmed cases
Between November 2014-October 2015, there were 19 confirmed cases
Between November 2015-October 2016: 21 confirmed cases
November 2016 – end May 2017: 22 confirmed cases
Are any dogs at particular risk of getting CRGV?
Many different breeds of dog have been affected. Dogs of all ages and sexes have also been affected, so there is no current evidence that any one dog is more at risk from this illness than any other dog.
What can I do to help?
There are many ways in which owners of all dogs can get involved to raise awareness of CRGV and to participate in and fundraise for ongoing research
Research into new diseases requires a lot of funding. This pays for the development of new diagnostic tests, investigation of the causes of the disease and, ultimately, the development of more effective treatments. The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) was launched as a National charity last summer.
Is CRGV the same illness as seasonal canine illness (SCI)?
No – these are two completely separate illnesses causing different signs. SCI causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy with no ulcerative skin lesions
Can dogs get CRGV all year round?
Over the last 5 years, more CRGV cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter / Spring seasonality.
Does CRGV affect other animals or humans?
CRGV has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected by CRGV have not been affected by this illness.