MORE dogs have been struck by the Alabama rot – fuelling fears the disease has mutated and could now kill pets all year round.
The deadly disease which causes painful skin lesions before developing into kidney failure has killed at least 130 pooches since it struck Britain in 2012.
Four new cases have been confirmed this month, in West Sussex, Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Alphington near Exeter.
Bella, a two-year-old Labrador from Alphington who died this week, was only walked through Clapperbrook Lane. Her distraught owners do not know where she contracted the disease.
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said worried dog owners should still continue to exercise their pets.
She said: “While it is understandable that dog owners will be worried by this increase in confirmed cases, Alabama Rot is still a very rare disease and we’d encourage owners to continue exercising their pet.
“If a dog becomes affected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care. Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.”
The rot was thought to only strike in the cold, wet months between November and February. But vets now believe all breeds are at risk regardless of where they are walked.
David Walker, from Winchester-based Anderson Moores vets, one of the leading experts on the condition, said: “Although the figures have almost doubled since 2016, it is important that dog owners remain calm, but vigilant.
“The first sign normally seen is a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury.
“Most commonly these sores are found on the lower half of the leg and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.”
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Distraught owner, Nathan Emmingham, from Lincolnshire, said his cocker spaniel Ben was left writhing and yelping in pain before he died last month.
He added: “We don’t know where [he contracted] it as I walked him all over on different routes.
“They think it’s because he went in a muddy puddle. But just because he went in that puddle, it doesn’t mean every dog who goes in that puddle will get it.
“It doesn’t matter what breed or age they are, it depends on the immune system.”
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