Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College’s Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (QMHA) say they've made a ground-breaking discovery in the treatment of the deadly canine disease, Alabama rot.

Alabama rot, properly known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) first emerged in Alabama in the 1980s, hence the nickname. The lack of understanding on how it spreads or can be stopped has led to high fatality rates for dogs who develop it.

The reason for its sudden appearance in the UK six years ago also remains a mystery.

The disease 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 forward about the cause; anything from E. coli-produced toxins to parasites and bacteria. However, without knowing the exact source it is impossible to develop an effective cure.

The treatment offered by QMHA is known as 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.

The development of this treatment 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.

The QMHA academics reported that two out of six dogs who underwent plasmapheresis made a full recovery.

The full findings of the research have been published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science1.

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."


  1. Ragnhild Skulberg, Stefano Cortellini, Daniel L. Chan, Giacomo Stanzani and Rosanne E. Jepson, Description of the Use of Plasma Exchange in Dogs With Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, Frontiers in Veterinary Science

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