There has been at least one confirmed case of the flesh rotting disease in the county and now online pet experts Vets4Pets is asking owners to take extra precautions when out walking their dogs.
The mysterious illness, which first appeared in the late 1980s affecting greyhounds in America, has spread to at least 18 counties in England including Bucks, Oxfordshire and Bedfordshire and has been on the rise in recent years.
And the very source of Alabama Rot, which causes symptoms such as skin lesions on the legs, chest and abdomen before eventual renal failure in about 25% of cases, could be as close as Northampton. That’s according to a pet owner whose dog is believed to have contracted the disease at a park in the town.
“The cause of Alabama Rot, clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is still unknown and there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease,” said Huw Stacey, head of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
“The concern among vets in the UK is that unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog.
“Of course cases are currently extremely rare and this information is aimed at preventing a large scale outbreak by stopping the disease spread and ensuring dogs are kept safe while enjoying the great UK outdoors.”
Vets4Pets, which has over 300 practices across the UK, is currently supporting the research work carried out by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists and the Animal Health Trust to help understand the disease, how it can be treated and prevented.
But what do dog owners need to look out for?
Mr Stacey added: “The first sign that is normally seen is a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury. Most commonly these sores are found below the elbow or knee and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.
“If a dog becomes infected the best outcome will come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering.”
“Any dog owners who think their pet has Alabama Rot symptoms should contact their nearest vet immediately. This will help build knowledge about the spread of the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.”
The firm has launched an interactive guide to provide dog owners with information on the disease, including confirmed locations and tips on how to reduce the risk of dogs becoming infected.
In the Hemel Hempstead area, there have been as many as three confirmed cases of the rare and potentially fatal disease.