Dog owners in Hampshire of all breeds are being warned to be extra vigilant after at least 30 dogs in England have been killed in just 18 months by the flesh-eating disease known as Alabama rot.
Between November 2012 and March 2014 no less than 71 possible cases were reported and while reports have come from multiple locations, 10 had been walked in the New Forest, in Hampshire, shortly before becoming unwell. Dogs from Northamptonshire, Yorkshire, Dorset, Shropshire, Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire, County Durham and Monmouthshire also displayed symptoms.
First identified in the US in the 1980s, Alabama rot is also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), which leads to skin lesions, kidney failure and death but the cause remains unknown.
Most of the dogs were taken to the vet by their owners because of skin lesions and while some were showing signs of being unwell, others developed symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, vomiting and fever a few days later.
Vets are urging dog owners to act on skin lesions quickly, especially if they do not know they were caused by an injury. With Alabama rot, skin lesions are typically below the knee or elbow, although they are occasionally seen on the face, bottom of the chest or abdomen.
They may present as a focal swelling, a patch of red skin or a skin defect similar to an ulcer.
Vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness usually start later as signs of the oncoming kidney failure.
The advice is if you have a concern immediately consult your vet or take your dog to an emergency