THE first suspected case of a killer dog disease has been reported in Portsmouth.
Alabama rot is so devastating that nine out of 10 dogs which contract it die.
My usual vet was very, very concerned and she was referred to Anderson Moores in Winchester where they told me she had an 80 per cent chance it was Alabama rotLuke Orrell
It causes lesions on the skin and in most cases leads to kidney failure.
So far only 60 cases have been confirmed across the country since 2012.
But Luke Orrell’s labrador Flake is currently seriously ill with what vets suspect is the condition – after she was walked in Hilsea and North End.
Experts at Anderson Moores specialist vets, where the dog is being treated, have confirmed they suspect Flake has the killer disease but hopes are high that she will recover because she does not have kidney failure yet.
Devastated Luke, a 26-year-old teacher, said: ‘I walk her the same route every day.
‘We go through North End, around Hilsea Lines, over the bridge, down past Foxes Forest and home.
‘On Tuesday she had a sore leg which I didn’t like the look of so I took her to the emergency vet.
‘They weren’t worried about it but on Wednesday she came out in blisters.
‘My usual vet was very, very concerned and she was referred to Anderson Moores in Winchester where they told me she had an 80 per cent chance it was Alabama rot.’
He added: ‘Potentially she could die.’
So far Flake’s treatment has cost £6,000 – which is covered by pet insurance.
Tests show she does not have kidney failure at the moment but that could change.
There have been a number of cases in the New Forest, which has led some to conclude that it comes from densely wooded areas. But there is no scientific confirmation of this.
Luke said he keeps away from the thick woodland areas of Foxes Forest and this is the first report of a case in the Portsmouth area. There have been six cases of the disease in the UK in the latest outbreak, with cases popping up across the country.
The problem for vets is that the only way of confirming 100 per cent that a dog has Alabama rot is by tests after death.
Expert David Walker, from Anderson Moores, said that because of that, although they suspect Flake has the disease, they cannot be 100 per cent sure.
He said: ‘All we know at this moment is that this dog has skin lesions but does not have any evidence of kidney failure.
‘The difficulty is we can only confirm these cases with 100 per cent confidence post post-mortem.
‘We have a strong suspicion Alabama rot has an environment trigger but, again, we cannot confirm that with 100 per cent confidence.
‘The suspicion is that whatever causes this disease is ingested orally.’
He added: ‘It’s difficult to say “don’t walk within a geographical areas” because we don’t know what happened prior to developing signs and where the dog picked it up.’