A new warning is being sounded to pet owners in Sussex after an outbreak of a deadly disease affecting dogs was found near Horsham.
Vets have confirmed a case of Alabama Rot - which affects dogs’ skin and kidneys and is fatal in most cases - in Maplehurst.
It is the second case of the killer disease reported in Sussex this year. Another dog was reported to be suffering Alabama Rot in Findon in March.
Dog owners are advised to remain ‘calm but vigilant’ and seek advice if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.
As well as the case in Maplehurst, veterinary specialist referral centre Anderson Moores has reported other new cases in Farnborough, Romiley in Greater Manchester and Alphington, near Exeter in Devon.
In total, the UK has now seen 166 confirmed cases of Alabama Rot - otherwise known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy of CRGV - across 38 counties since 2012, with 43 cases this year.
David Walker, the UK’s leading expert on the condition, from Anderson Moores, said: “It is understandably very worrying for dog owners, but we hope the increase in cases is partially due to a higher awareness and understanding of the disease.
“However this disease is still very rare, so we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.
“The first sign of the disease that is 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.”
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, has been supporting research on the condition for a number of years, and is advising dog owners to contact their vet if they have any concerns.
He 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.
“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.
“Treatment is supportive, but is only successful in around 20 per cent of cases, which is why we’re encouraging all dog owners to use the online interactive guide to help them understand the clinical signs and confirmed locations of the condition.
“If a dog becomes affected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care at a specialist facility such as Anderson Moores.
“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.”