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Basenji BC plans combined health seminar

The Basenji Breed Council is hosting a combined seminar on ‘Fanconi Syndrome in Dogs’ and ‘The Importance of DNA Testing’, on the 18th June 2005 at Langford Village Hall, Beds.

Fanconi Syndrome is a disease of the kidneys which, left untreated, will cause death. The speaker, Dr. Steve Gonto, has studied this syndrome in America with particular reference to Basenjis, although other breeds including Elkhounds, Schnauzers, Shetland Sheepdogs and Staffordshire Bull Terriers have been recorded as affected.

When the renal tubes lose their ability to absorb nutrients (including essential vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and bicarbonates) and instead excrete them in the urine, the animal develops acidosis, loses body mass and wastes away. Symptoms of Fanconi include excessive drinking and urination. Most dogs with Fanconi become symptomatic between the ages of 5 and 7, but it has been diagnosed in dogs as young as 3 and as old as 11.

Early diagnosis is critical in extending the dog’s life. Beginning at age 3 or earlier, Dr Gonto believes that all Basenjis, as the breed most commonly affected by the syndrome, should have their urine checked monthly by the owner, using test strips as used by diabetics for urine glucose testing.

Positive diagnosis consists of confirming the presence of glucose in the urine accompanied by normal blood glucose. Following diagnosis, a venous blood gas test will be done to determine the appropriate level of supplementation needed. Dr. Gonto’s Fanconi maintenance protocol has in many cases allowed affected dogs to live a reasonably normal life

Fanconi is believed to be hereditary, but no clear inheritance pattern has yet been found either in Basenjis or in the other breeds known to have afflicted members. Research is currently being undertaken at the University of Missouri, led by Dr. Gary Johnson, a geneticist working to identify the gene set responsible for Fanconi Syndrome in dogs.

Identifying the correct gene set for Fanconi could result in a true, verifiable test for the disease and allow breeders eventually to breed it out entirely. Dr. Gonto will explain this research, give an update on the encouraging progress made recently in identifying a possible candidate gene, and describe the further potential of the research for developing newer and better treatment options for afflicted dogs.

In the afternoon, Dr. J. Sampson will present the talk on DNA profiling with particular reference to the K.C. involvement and what it means to today’s breeders/exhibitors.

Veterinarians are most interested in the information directly relevant to the genetic basis of disease. Eventually we should expect that all canine genes, and mutations as they are identified, would be accessible on an internet database that is continually updated. We could then compare the genetic profile of any dog to the canine genetic database. The goal will be to detect mutations in groups of genes that, in combination, are known to cause disease.

There are limited spaces for this seminar; it is open to owners of all breeds, and veterinary surgeons wishing to increase their knowledge of Fanconi Syndrome are particularly welcome. For more information or to book a place please contact; Hon. Sec Paul Singleton 01206 514952