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News Article

‘Alabama Rot’ treated with plasma exchange


The management of dogs in the UK with cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy has been challenging given that there is no known underlying aetiology and there is severe morbidity associated with the condition.

Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) is a rare disease affecting dogs, with a recent apparent increase in prevalence since 2012 in the UK. CRGV was first reported in the USA in 1988 and initially referred to as ‘Alabama Rot’. It is unclear whether ‘Alabama Rot’ represents the same disease as the CRGV that is affecting dogs in the UK or whether a different aetiopathogenesis exists. The lack of understanding on how it spreads or can be stopped has led to high fatality rates for dogs that develop it. The reason for its sudden appearance in the UK also remains a mystery.

CRGV causes small clots in blood vessels, which eventually result in skin ulcers, tissue damage, and kidney failure in many cases. Many theories have been put forwards about the cause; anything from E. coli-produced toxins to parasites and bacteria. But without knowing the exact source it is impossible to develop an effective cure.

One of the treatments offered at the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) is therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) or ‘plasmapheresis.’ This method involves filtering all the patient’s blood so that toxic substances, including whatever causes CRGV, are removed. Once filtered, the blood is returned to the patient.

Its development was made possible by the discovery of the similarities between ‘Alabama Rot’ in dogs and thrombotic microangiopathy in humans, which is also treated with plasma exchange.

RVC clinicians report in Frontiers in Veterinary Science that two out of six dogs who underwent plasmapheresis made a full recovery.

Dr Stefano Cortellini, an author of the study and Lecturer in Emergency and Critical Care at the RVC, said: “Despite the fact that only a third of dogs treated with TPE recovered from their disease, this is the first time that dogs so severely affected by CRGV have been reported to survive and so we remain optimistic that TPE may play an important role in the treatment of this deadly disease.”

Read article: Description of the Use of Plasma Exchange in Dogs With Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy by Ragnhild Skulberg, Stefano Cortellini, Daniel L. Chan, Giacomo Stanzani and Rosanne E. Jepson published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science (2018) 5:161, doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00161

Article details

  • Date
  • 01 August 2018
  • Source
  • Royal Veterinary College
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals