Dog owners are being urged to take extra precautions when out walking their pets this summer to help combat the deadly disease, Alabama Rot.
The mysterious illness, which first appeared in the late 1980s affecting greyhounds in America, has been found in at least 27 counties in England and Wales since 2012, with 78 cases confirmed in the UK and 14 being already identified in 2016 alone.
Avonvale Veterinary Centres, which has surgeries in Leamington, Warwick, Kenilworth, Stratford, Southam and Wellesbourne, has issued the warning after Warwickshire became the latest area in the country to be affected by the disease.
The case, which was reported in Claverdon, near Warwick, on Wednesday, is one of 11 confirmed outbreaks of the disease across the UK this year.
Mark Taylor, clinical director at Avonvale, is urging dog owners to be aware of symptoms, which can include sudden swelling or soreness on the skin.
He said: “The case of Alabama Rot reported in Warwickshire is concerning and I would advise owners to be on their guard. Early symptoms include sores and skin lesions, typically below the knee or elbow, which are not wounds from an injury.
“The sores show as a swelling, a patch of red skin or a defect such as an ulcer.
“From then, affected dogs can develop signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
“Early recognition of the disease is key. Without knowing the trigger for the disease it’s impossible to give specific advice but I would urge dog owners to bring take their pets to be checked after any sudden onset of skin lesions, especially if the dog is also unwell.”
What causes the disease - clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) - is still unknown and treatment is at best 30 per cent successful.
The first Alabama Rot conference will be held in May, with scientists from human medicine, alongside vets from academia and private practice, teaming up to discuss ways to learn more about the disease.
To find out where in the UK cases of Alabama Rot have been confirmed follow this link www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/