|Forestry Commission - Alabama Rot New Forest Poster|
According to this report in the Western Daily Press, "Dog owners are being urged not to walk their pets in woodland after an outbreak of Alabama Rot in Wiltshire. A fifth dog has fallen ill in Wiltshire, following cases in Monmouthshire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire."
There is more on the story in The Mirror: Dog owners being warned not to walk pets in woodland after outbreak of deadly disease
Nearly 20 dogs died in the New Forest in a flare-up in 2013 and in information provided earlier this year, the Forestry Commission advised dog owners to go to Forest Veterinary Clinic in Fordingbridge (01425 652221).
Additionally, Southern Counties Veterinary Specialists in Ringwood (01425 485615) are / were offering a ‘Alabama Rot’ FREE* initial referral consultation for suspected cases.
What should I be looking out for in my dog?
New Forest District Council say "If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog's leg or face anywhere from 0 to 7 days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, then you should seek veterinary attention. This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual. Most lesions will not be caused by this condition. Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet."
Alabama rot: What to look out for, what to do
Should we be more specifically concerned in this area?
Maybe, maybe not. As this information from Alabamarot.co.uk states, "It is possible that cases of Alabama Rot are not reported uniformly by vets throughout England – the lead vets, Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, are based in Winchester, Hampshire. So vets in New Forest may be reporting a larger proportion of confirmed Alabama Rot cases than elsewhere in UK."
The disease has been under investigation by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists (01962 767920)(working closely with a number of other organisations) for almost 3 years.
In their Advisory leaflet (PDF) (via New Forest District Council), Anderson Moores say that "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."
My own opinion would be that use of antiseptics, as we have no idea if they would be of any benefit either, could even be a counter-productive measure in encouraging a tendency to create a resistance.
The New Forest Dog Owners Group has a Research Fund to facilitate further investigations into ‘Alabama rot’, which you may like to consider contributing to.
A CRGV map is maintained so that owners can make decisions where to walk their dogs. However, to put this into perspective, "Remember this is a rare disease with an estimated 100 cases in 3 years. [...] Millions of dogs walk in the countryside every day." - Purton Vets. Nevertheless, just to be on the safe-side, for the moment we will avoid taking any dogs staying with us on walks in the forest and sticking to local and costal walks instead.