New research into Alabama Rot has revealed a distinct seasonal pattern for when cases are most likely to occur.
The study, led by the RVC and Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, revealed that 95 per cent of cases were confirmed between November and May.
It also found that most cases occurred in the west and south of England. Far fewer cases have been reported from the east of the country, in particular, East Anglia.
The research was funded by the New Forest Dog Owners Group and the charity Alabama Rot Research Fund.
“A distinct seasonal pattern is suggested, with the vast majority of cases occurring between November and March, and limited cases over the summer months – just 6.5 per cent of cases have been confirmed from June to October,” said co-author David Walked from Anderson Moores.
“In the scientific world a lot of research is not earth-shattering, but it all builds together and little by little we make progress. This information is good in terms of how we manage the next stage of research, however, we need to be careful and not jump to any conclusions at this point.”
Alabama Rot has been reported in a wide range of breeds, but due to the small number of cases, it is not possible to say with certainty which breeds have an inherent risk of contracting the disease.
Researchers say any patterns may simply be the result of varying breed populations in different parts of the UK. Vets4Pets director of clinical services Dr Huw Stacey, who has been actively supporting research on the condition, said:
“Since we held the first Alabama Rot conference in May 2017, vets and relevant professionals have been working hard to understand more about the condition. We know how the disease presents and how it affects dogs internally, and this research adds some interesting information that may help to increase vets’ index of suspicion for the disease.
“The information on climate and ground type will help us further explore possible triggers for the disease, but at the moment we can’t say if any breeds are more likely to develop the disease.”