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Study Identifies Causes of Brain Inflammation

Meningoencephalitis, a general term for inflammation of the brain and its outer covering, is a naturally occurring disease in dogs that is believed to be caused by genetic and environmental factors. The disease has a grave prognosis when the cause is unknown, and unfortunately, the cause is unclear in 75 percent of cases in dogs. In humans with meningoencephalitis, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is used to definitively diagnose causes of infection, and as a result, survival rates have improved.

Researchers from the University of Georgia used PCR to identify suspect microorganisms in canine meningoencephalitis. They identified two viruses that are not typically considered to be pathogens in dogs, La Crosse virus and Merkel cell carcinoma virus, and determined that La Crosse virus may be associated with specific forms of canine meningoencephalitis. In addition, two bacteria (Mycoplasma spp. and Bartonella) were also identified.

New knowledge gained from this study should result in better diagnoses and allow for specific therapeutic intervention, thereby improving survival rates for affected dogs.

This research was led by Dr. Scott Schatzberg at the University of Georgia.

Categories: Animal health, Canine health, Dog health
November 9, 2012