CKCS Club AGM - 22 March 2009

Report from Health Sub-Committee


Health Testing

We ran health testing clinics at three events this year.

56 eyes and 112 hearts (with some blood samples taken) were tested at the Health Clinic in Bagworth, Leicestershire in September.
51 hearts were tested at the Open Show in Knutsford, Cheshire on November.
104 eyes and 186 hearts were tested at the recent Championship show in Malvern.

Professor Nick Jeffries, a neurologist from Cambridge University, was kind enough to come to the Championship Show to talk to members on an individual basis.

At both the health clinic and the Championship show dogs were able to be micro-chipped.

The Club also subsidised 20 MRI scans.

Animal Health Trust Research and Estimated Breeding Value Programme

This Club (and the Regional Clubs) have given out many DNA swabs to owners and breeders for the Animal Health Trust Research being run by Sarah Blott. These swabs are being stored at the AHT until such time as the SM or MVD genes have been identified. The Club is also encouraging Owners and breeders to send their MRI scans and MVD heart certificates to Sarah Blott as input to the Estimated Breeding Value Program. Just a reminder that between all the Clubs 1000 swabs have been distributed to cavalier owners but so far only about 200 have been returned to the AHT, so if they are sitting in your cupboard please do the swabbing and post back to the Animal Health Trust.

Sarah Blott has given talks all around the country (organised by the regional Clubs) and we will be organising two more in the Autumn in areas where there has not been a talk nearby.

Hearts

The Club administered hearts scheme database is now in the hands of Simon Swift. Please send all completed heart certificates to Lesley Jupp, this includes Heart certificates completed by your own Veterinary surgeon. The current Over 5 clear heart list (must be Cardiologist ausculated) is now online on the website, and can be requested from the Club Secretary.

Hope you will all have heard Simon Swift talk today.

There will soon be a standardised KC/BVA Heart scheme administered by the KC/BVA.

Research to identify the genes responsible for Mitral Valve Prolapse is ongoing in Denmark.

Syringomyelia

The Voluntary MRI list has been reinstated and can be accessed online on the Website, or can be requested from the Club Secretary. This is NOT a list of clear dogs, it is a list of owners who are happy to announce the fact that they have MRI scanned their dogs. You need to establish the MRI status of the dog with their owner.

As would be anticipated during any type of research, there has been variation in both the way the MRI scans have been taken, and on the interpretation of those scans by different neurologists, and on the recommendations for which stock can be used for breeding - that is the nature of research, the goal posts move. Experts do not always agree on which is the best way forward. However, some time mid year there will be a new MRI standardised MRI screening process set up, which is the compilation of several of the neurologists who have been most involved in MRI scanning Cavaliers. There will be a standard way of taking an MRI scan, recommended ages to take dogs for scans, and a panel to evaluate the scans. At least 2 neurologists will need to agree on the interpretation of each scan, with an appeals procedure also in place. There will be no longer be any grading, dogs will get have a YES/NO for various conditions. Dogs will need to be permanently identified to participate in this scheme (from Jan 2010 all dogs in KC testing schemes will need to be permanently identified – a Kennel Club requirement). The results from this MRI scanning scheme for every scan will automatically be sent through to the AHT and Sarah Blott’s EBV database.

It is therefore hoped that more breeders will soon have confidence in the MRI scanning process. Whilst recognising that it may prove to have its limitations in the future, at the moment it is the best tool we have. We need to convince some of our critics that there are many SM clear dogs, and indeed clear kennels. At the moment there is only one way to do this.

Research to identify the genes responsible for Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia is ongoing in Montreal, Canada with Zoha Kibar and Guy Rouleau.(The Club has donated £2000 towards this Research). The researchers are currently looking for dogs that have been MRI scanned CLEAR at the age of 5 or older. Dr Clare Rusbridge and Penny Knowler have been, and are still involved in collaborating with these human geneticists. If you have a dog that could possibly help in this research please contact Maggie Ford (for swabs and forms) , or Penny Knowler, so that vital DNA information can be sent out to Canada.

Eyes

The high level of clear eye certificates that have been issued this year is a credit to all those who test the eyes of their breeding stock. Vigilance has paid off in the very low incidence of ocular conditions, but we must not relax, but continue testing to ensure that our breeding stock is clear.

The Kennel Club now has an online system to enable anyone to check if any registered dog has been issued with a KC/BVA clear eye certificate. This link can be accessed through our own Club website. (KC Health Test Finder)

(From January 2010 all dogs being eye tested under the KC/BVA scheme will need to be permanently identified)

Kennel Club Health Plans

This committee (and all the Regional Clubs) were asked to input to the KC their prioritised list of health concerns within the breed. The Club prioritised in the order:

MVD
Neurological Conditions
Ocular Conditions
Cancer
Auditory Conditions

The committee received notification from the Kennel Club of its intention to amend the Breed Standard concerning eyes to include the additional requirement ‘showing no white of eye’. It was believed that this was intended to discourage the breeding of dogs with over large bulbous eyes. The committee presented a strong case against this proposal and was supported by a statement from Ophthalmologist, Mr Ian Mason. We are delighted to report that the Kennel Club, after consideration, agreed that the breed standard will remain unchanged.

Most members must be aware that in the last few months there have been several meetings and reports from various parties interested in dog breeding (CAWC, RSPCA, Independent Inquiry into Dog Breeding). Whatever the outcome of their findings and recommendations, we can expect to see much tighter controls over dog breeding in the future. There would seem to be a move towards breeder liability, in which case each breeder needs to decide for themselves the risks of not doing ‘everything possible’ in terms of testing to try to ensure the health of any offspring.

The committee have decided that we will shortly be implementing a requirement that only puppies from eye and heart tested parents can be advertised on our Club Puppy Register.

The committee are hoping that you will vote today to include Appendix C in our Code of Ethics. This will insert the guideline that dogs and bitches to be used for breeding should be MRI scanned. It is anticipated that these guidelines will be updated as research and the new MRI Scanning scheme are incorporated. The Club has written Letters of Support to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for Sarah Blott who wishes to conduct research to establish more accurate figures for the incidence of Syringomyelia. It has also written a letter of support to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust for further funding for Dr Brendan Corcoran at Edinburgh University continuing his research into Mitral Valve Structure.

Finally to keep members fully updated on the constant changes and new initiatives that are happening on the health front, the Clubs new newsletter (Cavalier Focus) will be sent out as necessary to keep you updated, as well as information appearing on the Club website. There has been a lot of effort on trying to make information available on the website, so please give it a regular look.

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