The progression of an extremely rare and devastating form of epilepsy has been identified in dogs, and the reported findings could influence the care of children suffering from the human form of it as well. It’s called Lafora’s disease, and while the canine version affects dogs in much higher numbers, there are reportedly 50 children living throughout the world who have received the diagnosis. Thanks to three groups joining forces in a yearlong study, steps have been taken toward swifter identification and a better understanding of the illness.
The unique study, which focused on mini wirehaired dachshunds, was made possible through the cooperation of pet owners and veterinarians at the University of Surrey’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Fitzpatrick Referrals in Surrey, England. Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Reader in Veterinary Neurology at the university and Chief Neurologist at Fitzpatrick, was then able to collaborate with specialists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto on the findings he and his team documented while caring for the 27 animals involved.
The hopeful is that the results will help both veterinarian and human medicine to formulate new approaches to future treatment of the deadly disease. Rusbridge said, “Lafora disease is a fatal disease that causes unbearable suffering for dogs and in rare cases young children. Due to its rarity, little is known about the onset of this illness, but what we have discovered, with the help of dog owners, is the clinical sign of Lafora helping to lead to quicker diagnosis. The more we learn about Lafora, the better chance we have of treating it effectively.”
Breeds Prone to Disease
For some reason dachshunds see a higher prevalence of canine Lafora than is typically seen among other breeds. Having access consistently to this many dogs with the affliction was an incredible opportunity for the U.K. vets to study the animals in various stages of the genetic mutation and share their findings with clinicians. Because of this work, another field has been impacted, and that is the breeding aspect of the wiener dog.
Thanks to campaigning led by both the Wirehaired Dachshund Club and Dachshund Breed Council, increased awareness and testing for canine Lafora has seen great success within the breeding community. Since the campaign began the number of litters bred with a risk of Lafora-affected puppies has been reduced from 55 percent to less than 5 percent, in only 5 years time.
Studies of Shared Conditions
Humane studies using dogs to better understand human conditions are not rare. German shepherds and Dobermans have both been at the center of research involving shared conditions. As further mysteries are delved into man’s best friend is right there by our side, which is where he/she always had been and always will be.
Source: Daily Science