Epilepsy is defined as repeated seizures over time without an underlying cause, such as a metabolic disorder or brain tumor. To diagnose epilepsy, a vet must first rule out any other conditions that can cause seizures. When all the potential causes are eliminated, the resulting diagnosis is “idiopathic epilepsy.”
Primary epilepsy, genetic epilepsy and idiopathic epilepsy are the same thing.
Epilepsy is a difficult disease to deal with for everyone the Ridgeback, the owner and the breeder. The quality of life for the owner as well as the Ridgeback is substandard, except in the mildest of cases. Breeders are frustrated as epilepsy may not occur until after the dog or relatives have been bred.
According to the RRCUS health survey, the frequency of epilepsy in the breed is not very significant, but the impact this disease has on quality of life certainly is. Also, anecdotal evidence suggests epilepsy is more common that the health survey sites. Because of this, the Health and Genetics Committee is taking a proactive approach and is in search of DNA samples on Ridgebacks diagnosed with epilepsy and as much of their immediately family as possible: sire, dam, siblings, grandparents and offsprings.
Dr. Oberbauer at the University of California at Davis is collecting the DNA cheek swabs for us. Dr. Oberbauer is extensively involved in epilepsy research. It was her research that identified the “gene of major influence” involved in Belgian Tervuren epilepsy. When enough quality samples are received, Dr. Oberbauer has agreed to analyze the samples. BUT the burden is on us. Without samples, she can do nothing.
DNA sampling is with cheek swabs. A completed questionnaire (click here to download - NOTE: this is a two-page form) and a copy of each dog’s pedigree needs to accompany the swabs.
Contact the Senior Chair of the H&G Committee, Susan Ralston, for swabs and for more information about this program.