The BHCAF supports research efforts which are especially beneficial to the diseases and genetic disorders which afflict the Basset Hound breed. Breakthroughs in research have been especially significant in the past few years and as technology and understanding of genetics both continue to evolve we take pride in supporting these research projects. The following are a few examples of research beneficial to the Basset Hound.
Tally-Ho - June 2014 issue
For several years a researcher at Iowa State University had a small colony of Basset Hounds that were initially acquired from a non-BHCA member. These dogs were very special in that they carried one or more genes for glaucoma and several of the dogs actually developed the disease. Two years ago, this researcher closed his lab, left the university and went into private practice. At that point, several of the older dogs (now out of the breeding population), including some with glaucoma, were adopted into private homes for the remainder of their lives. The remaining younger dogs, a unique and very valuable genetic resource for the study of Basset glaucoma, were transferred to a researcher at the University of Madison-Wisconsin (UW-M). This researcher supported the dogs entirely through personal funds earned from eye clinics and had hoped to be able to undertake some test breedings to continue to probe the genetic basis of the disease – but the researcher’s ability to do that was very limited by the very small number of breeding age females. Unfortunately, dog colonies are not eligible for funding from AKC Canine Health Foundation so it became clear that the future of the animals was in some doubt. In 2013, the BHCA Foundation approached the UW-M researcher in an attempt to find a way to preserve this genetic research resource while relieving the researcher of the financial burden of the dogs’ care. After much discussion within the Foundation Board and a separate discussion with the BHCA Board, a plan was devised to move the dogs to private hands while still maintaining their availability for physical examination and sampling (DNA).
In April of this year, with the welcome assistance of Guardian Angel Basset Rescue and several long-time BHCA members, the process was started to move the 10 remaining dogs to permanent homes. There are 7 males and 3 females, all about 18 months old. They are all well-socialized and well-adjusted. The dogs are being placed in permanent homes with families that understand their medical history and are prepared to provide them with their "forever" home.
BHCA Foundation facilitated and paid for the transport and will provide a subsidy for routine care (food, etc.) and medical costs. A board-certified veterinary ophthalmologist at a large well-known animal hospital has agreed to provide regular eye examinations at low or no-cost to monitor any development of eye disease. This will be done in concert with the researcher at UW-M who has been working with these dogs up until now to ensure continuity of their care. Currently, none of the dogs shows any signs of glaucoma. However, since their pedigrees contain a number of individuals who developed this disease, there is no way to determine what the probability is of future disease. This arrangement will ensure that these dogs will receive the appropriate care from a qualified veterinary ophthalmologist when and if they need it.
The BHCA Foundation and the BHCA Board believe that this information is important to provide to BHCA members especially in light of some very exciting new developments in glaucoma research (see the Health and Research column in this issue). These dogs are responsible for a significant contribution to our knowledge of glaucoma. This closes an important chapter in their lives and opens a new one - a happy and carefree life with fully-informed foster/adoptive families, able to provide the love and care they truly deserve.
The BHCA Foundation has set up a special fund for support of these dogs. Your contributions are needed to ensure the financial support for future veterinary care is available if needed. Please refer to the Foundation notice in this issue of the Tally-Ho for information on how to contribute.
Mycobacterial infections are becoming recognized as important clinical problems in dogs and cats.
The tubercle bacilli, M. tuberculosis and M. bovis and M. avium all infect dogs and cats as do many of the rapid-growing so called “atypical” strains. Our special interest is in detecting M. avium infections in dogs and cats as there has been an increasing recognition of clinical disease of the disseminated variety in a number of dog and cat breeds. Among dogs, the miniature schnauzer and basset hound have particular problems with disseminated M. avium infection and in cats the Siamese breed are particularly susceptible. There is an apparent genetic defect in their immune system.
With the advent of newer medical therapies, immune-compromised dogs and cats are being recognized with these infections. Cultivation of these organisms can take up to 6 weeks, and longer for positive identification. In human medicine, a number of methods are being used with increasing frequency for positive identification of these organisms from clinical specimens. This technology has been used for many years in identifying organisms grown in culture; however there is more of a demand to take a clinical specimen and immediately identify their presence. Using the proposed methods on clinical specimens will involve refining and purifying the specimen first before it can be analyzed. Furthermore these methods must distinguish between the nucleic acids and cell wall components of dog cells respectively from those of mycobacteria.
As the first part of this experiment this summer we plan to cultivate mycobacteria in cell culture of dogs and then determine what purification and optimization methods are needed to detect mycobacteria within this system. As a conclusion to this project we may also begin to test some clinical specimens from naturally infected dogs provided to us by the Schnauzer and Basset breeders who are anxiously looking for some way to rapidly identify infected dogs. We hope to adopt this test for routine clinical use in the near future to help with diagnosis and monitor therapy in affected dogs.
Individuals interested in submitting tissue and blood samples can submit EDTA blood and serum samples from living affected dogs, and lymphoid or other affected tissue upon necropsy. Tissue samples must not be put in formalin, but placed into a sterile container and shipped on cold ice packs.
The contact person for this study is Stan Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Craig Greene
Department of Small Animal Medicine
College of Vet Medicine
501 D.W. Brooks Dr.
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
* Please ship overnight to arrive on Tues-Thurs, not Friday