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Selective breeding could reduce syringomyelia
cavalier king charles spaniel
Researchers looked at the link between SM and head shape in certain breeds.

New research identifies risk factors for neck scratcher's disease

New research by the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences, shows selective breeding may be the way forward to reducing the incidence of syringomyelia (SM) - a painful condition that can lead to paralysis - in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and other toy breeds.

SM - also known as "neck scratcher's disease", as one of the common signs is scratching in the air near the neck - sees fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain.

The study looked at the incidence of the condition in Cavalier King Charles spaniels and its link to head shape in certain dog breeds, and identified two significant risk factors - the extent of brachycephaly and the distribution of doming of the cranium.

The research found that brachycephaly is associated with a malformation of the skull, known as Chiari-like malformation (CM), and concluded that the results of the study, in combination with the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club scoring scheme, may allow for selection against risk aspects of conformation to enable a reduction in the incidence of CM and SM. The complete research paper has been published in BioMed Central's Canine Genetics and Epidemiology journal and can be viewed at
www.cgejournal.org/content/1/1/9/abstract.

Undergraduate student Thomas Mitchell, lead author of the study, said: "Dog breeders are very experienced at selecting for a certain conformation or appearance in dogs. 

"Our findings may allow breeders to select away from the condition over fewer generations by choosing appropriate matings and offspring to continue breeding programmes. The identification of an appearance that might protect against developing the disease is a significant step forward in tackling this painful condition.

"The study also provides guidance to breed clubs, breeders and judges that have a responsibility to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be harmful in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of the breed.  It will also provide vets with verified advice to provide to breeders outside the show ring and to occasional hobbyists."

Aimée Llewellyn, health information manager at the Kennel Club, who funded the study, said: “The findings of this research are very interesting and will likely prove invaluable for breeders who wish to make sensible and informed choices when it comes to breeding healthy puppies."

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Mission Rabies 2017 off to a great start

News Story 1
 More than 4,500 dogs have been vaccinated against rabies in one of the first major drives of 2017.

It took just two weeks in January for Mission Rabies to vaccinate 4,575 dogs in the Meru district of Tanzania.

The team set-up vaccination points across the district and followed-up with door-to-door work, checking vaccination cards and giving vaccines to any dogs that had been missed.

Overall, the charity reached 75 per cent of the local dog population, smashing last year's total and comfortably above the required 70 per cent.  

News Shorts
US science association honours leading Pirbright scientist

A leading scientist at The Pirbright Institute has been honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a 2017-2018 AAAS Alan I. Leshner Leadership Institute Public Engagement Fellow.

Dr Anthony Wilson, group leader for integrative entomology at Pirbright, was chosen from a large number of international applicants, together with 14 other infectious disease researchers from around the world.

In selecting the new Public Engagement Fellows, the AAAS said they had demonstrated, "...leadership and excellence in their research careers and interest in promoting meaningful dialogue between science and society".