Dogs help children with a rare and severe form of epilepsy

Although Lafora disease only affects about 50 children worldwide, it is a deadly form of epilepsy that is common in Wirehaired Dachshunds.

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(photo is not a Wirehaired Dachshund but it is cute!)

Many Wirehaired Dachshunds suffer from Lafora, and because the disease is the same in children as it is in dogs, veterinarians and human neurologists have teamed up to study the disease.

Dr. Clare Rusbridge, Reader in Veterinary Neurology at the University of Surrey and Chief Neurologist at Fitzpatrick Referrals, have been working with specialists of Lafora in children at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and have identified a canine gene mutation that causes Lafora in dogs.

They were able to study the progression of the disease in dogs so that they could identify its early stages in children. By understanding the progression of the disease, scientists will be better able to identify it sooner in children and eventually find a cure.

The plus side of these studies is that over the past five years, with the help of the Wirehaired Dachshund Club and Dachshund Breed Council, breeders have tested breeding stock and as a result, have reduced the number of litters that are at risk of having Lafora from 55% to under 5%. Hopefully the continued research will benefit humans as well.

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