Within hours of walking along the seashore of the North Sea, an 18-month-old Great Dane in Germany developed a disorder that had previously been documented only in adult greyhounds in the United States. The Great Dane developed erythematous papules, which crusted, on the inner thighs, on the scrotum, and around the right tarsus. He was mildly azotemic and had a high leukocyte count with low platelets. The mild azotemia was treated, and because of a tentative diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus, the dog was given prednisolone and antibiotics. The dog's condition deteriorated rapidly and dramatically. Serum urea nitrogen levels increased continuously. As the patient's condition continued to decline, the owner requested euthanasia. Postmortem lesions were consistent with those seen in greyhounds with idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy and included thrombosis, fibrinoid necrosis, and leukocytoclastic vasculitis of cutaneous and cortical renal arterioles and glomerular capillaries. Many of the abnormalities are also similar to the hemolytic uremic syndrome seen in humans from Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) that is often associated with eating undercooked hamburger. In this case, polymerase chain reaction analysis of formalin-fixed intestinal samples showed no evidence of STEC.

COMMENTARY: This is the first reported case of the disease in a dog other than a greyhound and outside the United States. The cause of this potentially fatal disease in greyhounds is still unknown, and it may now be seen in other breeds as well.

Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy in a great dane resembling "Alabama rot" of greyhounds. Rotermund A, Peters M, Hewicker-Trautwein M, Nolte I. Vet Rec 151: 510-512, 2002.