Distraught dog owner's warning after pet dies from mysterious Alabama Rot
A dog owner has spoken of her family’s devastation after their treasured pet died from the deadly and mysterious Alabama Rot disease.
Jessie, previously a healthy two-and-a-half-year-old Hungarian Vizsla, was put to sleep less than a week after first falling ill at home in Seaham.
Experts later confirmed that she was one of nine new cases nationwide of Alabama Rot – a rare flesh-eating bug which eventually targets blood vessels and kidneys – and the first in this region for 20 months.
While there is no known way of preventing the illness from striking, Jessie’s distraught owners, Becky and David Patterson, have warned owners to take extra precautions after walking their dogs through wet and muddy conditions.
Mrs Patterson, 30, an electrical installation student, said: “It has been an horrendous time for us.
“I had heard I had heard of Alabama Rot prior to Jessie getting it.
“But with an estimated 9.9million dogs in the UK and only 207 confirmed cases in this country, you really don't think it would happen to you.
“But it has and it’s been an awful three weeks for our family.”
Mrs Patterson said Jessie initially stopped eating properly on Friday, January 17, and was taken to a veterinary surgery the following Monday after she started being sick and developed lesions on her paws and hind legs.
She was eventually put to sleep on Wednesday, January 22, after her kidneys and liver began to fail.
Among the places the family had walked Jessie prior to her illness were nearby Hawthorn Dene and Hetton Lyons Country Park as well as High Force, in Teesdale, and Fountains Abbey, near Ripon.
Mrs Patterson, whose 33-year-old husband is a telecommunications engineer, added: “We don’t know for certain where she caught it. She was part of the family and came everywhere with us.
“What I would say to other owners is find the time after you have taken your dog out in muddy conditions to wash their paws and toes and check for any unusual marks on their skin.”
She added that the couple’s children, Rose, five and Frankie, three, were particularly upset by Jessie’s death.
The disease, known officially as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), gained its everyday name after it was first observed among greyhounds in the American state of Alabama in the 1980s.
The first UK case was confirmed in 2012 and it is now known to affect all different kinds of breeds, regardless of age, sex or weight.
Tell tale signs include swellings, patches of red skin and open ulcer-like wounds, usually found beneath knees or elbows.
Treatment is usually successful in around 20% of cases.
Dr Huw Stacey, of Vets4Pets, has been supporting research for a number of years and is advising dog owners to contact their vet quickly if they have any concerns.
He said: “While it is understandable that dog owners will be worried by Alabama Rot, it is still a very rare disease and we’d encourage owners to continue exercising their pet.”