Should Americans Worry About Alabama Rot?

December 18, 2017

Dog lovers, beware. There’s a rare but serious disease that you should know the symptoms of: Alabama Rot. Symptoms of Alabama Rot begin as lesions on the skin, and advance to renal failure. Other symptoms can include fever, lack of appetite, fatigue and vomiting (sounds like a lot of human diseases!). Alabama Rot is serious and sometimes difficult to treat, but it’s been around long enough that vets have discovered and documented pathways to saving dogs.

It’s unknown what pathogen causes Alabama Rot. Some suspect a bacterial origin, others a parasite. It doesn’t appear to spread between dogs. This makes prevention harder, both for pet owners and for scientists (they can’t develop tools like vaccines if there’s no known cause).

Worse yet, while vets in the UK track the disease, there doesn’t appear to be good data tracking for the US. Right now there’s an outbreak in the UK, with enough new cases having popped up recently to warrant a warning to dog owners, but it’s still so rare that in a big place like the US it would be hard to track without a coordinated effort and reporting.

That can be both good and bad news. It’s rare enough that you don’t have to actively worry about it, but a little prevention and awareness might save your dog’s life if it strikes in your household.

One theory about Alabama Rot is that it comes from contaminated food (E. coli was suspected but seems to have been ruled out). Cooking any meat you serve dogs may help prevent Alabama Rot (and will certainly help prevent other illnesses). If your dog develops off behaviors or lesions, call a vet right away. The disease can lead to death in less than a week even with active treatment, so being on top of things is your only shot.

Since it’s generally agreed on that Alabama Rot is caused by a pathogen (even if we don’t know which one), a few drops of colloidal silver in your dog’s water bowl each day may also help with prevention.

Have you heard of Alabama Rot? Share your story in the comments:

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