Newsletter: Volume 1, Issue 1 April 1997

Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF)

Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF) is a disease that appears to be unique to the Chinese Shar-Pei breed. The chief clinical sign is a very high fever of short duration. The temperature generally runs between 105 – 107°F and lasts 12 – 36 hours. Often this is accompanied by painful swelling o one or both hock (ankle) joints in the rear legs. The hock is often very warm to the touch. It is important to remember that the hock swelling is an inconsistent feature of FSF – the fever is always present.

The disease is hereditary and appears to be identical to a disease seen in man called Familial Mediterranean Fever.

Other clinical signs are: a “sick” dog look, roached(arched) back, pacing, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite and/or laying around. Always check the temperature in a sick Shar-Pei. This is easily done with a rectal thermometer placed in the rectum about 1 inch and left for about 1 minute. The normal temperature should be 101-102°F.

What causes FSF? Current research indicates the disease is caused by a genetic defect that causes increased levels of Interleukin 6. This is a messenger in the body that stimulates inflammation. This results in fever, swelling and pain.

Work is currently underway at the University of Missouri college of Veterinary Medicine at Columbia on the development of a DNA blood test to screen for individuals that carry the defective gene. This test will help breeders screen their breeding stock and allow them to select only those individuals don’t carry the defective gene. This research is being funded by the CSPCA Charitable Trustand I’ll give you more information later in this newsletter if you want to help.

Treatment ? Treatment during an episode is mainly supportive. With the first episode I like to do a complete work up including a CBC (complete blood count), a health panel to evaluate liver and an immune panel. I usually start aspirin therapy to decrease the fever. I use Ascriptin® regular strength, 1 tablet every 6 hours the first 24 hours and then 1 tablet twice a day for 2-3 days. I offer small amounts of water frequently and don’t worry about feeding them until the episode is over. Monitoring the temperature is very important to see that we get a response to the aspirin. Dogs that don’t respond need emergency care.

Follow-up ? Individuals with FSF have an increased risk for developing a type of kidney failure known as Renal Amyloidosis as well as other types of immune-mediated kidney disease. In dogs with repeated episodes of FSF a drug called colchicine is dispensed as a life-long preventative measure. It is experimental, but has been shown to decrease the incidence of Renal Amyloidosis in people with this condition.

I strongly advise that all Shar-Pei have a urine sample checked 3-4 times a year whether they’ve had FSF or not. The uranalysis is a simple screening test for kidney disease. I advise taking up the dog’s water overnight and getting a sample the first thing in the morning. It is also a great idea to do blood panels at least 1-2 times a year in Shar-Pei between the ages of 2 – 6 years of age, especially breeding stock. We lose many Shar-Pei in this age group due to kidney failure and early recognition allows us to take some preventive measures.

Other things you can do include weighing you dog frequently, monitoring water consumption and urination, watch for decreases in muzzle size and feed a diet low in protein (18-22%). Hopefully, FSF will be a disease of the past soon.

Lymes’ Disease

Lymes’ Disease Found in Ticks in Cook County! This is a recent headline you may have been seeing recently. Lymes’ disease is not a new threat, but is gaining a foothold in northern Illinois and in our area. The cause of Lyme’s disease is the spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi. This Organism is carried by the deer tick. This tick has a 2-year life cycle. The larval tick feeds on small mammals primarily the white-footed mouse which is the main reservoir for the spirochete. The larval ticks become infected and, as adults feed on the white-tailed deer. Deer are important for the mechanical spread of the ticks carrying the disease. Dogs develop Lyme’s disease when infected ticks feed on them. The disease, in dogs, presents as musculoskeletal problems, cardiac disease and kidney disease. The main presentation is the musculoskeletal form. Here the dog is systemically ill with a fever, swollen joints an lameness. A blood test is available to screen for the disease in suspect animals. Treatment is antibiotic therapy, but relapses are common. The disease is not directly transmissible form dog to man — tick transmission is necessary.Control and prevention involves tick control using a variety of products. ProTICall®, and Frontline® are two spot-on formulations that work well, and avoidance of areas where the disease may be prevalent. The disease has a higher incidence in the spring and summer so be especially careful during these times of the year. This means any areas where ticks, deer and mice can be found together such as rural wooded areas, forest preserves, etc. Checking your dog frequently for ticks is another safe-guard. The deer tick is fairly small, but check your dog around the ears, neck, back and chest.

There is a vaccine available. It should be used in those dogs considered high risk for the development of Lyme’s disease. This would include those dogs who are exercised in potential tick areas such as a forest preserve or other wooded areas, hunting dogs, and those dogs which travel into Lyme’s areas such as Wisconsin or Michigan. Even in vaccinated dogs tick control should be instituted.

New Flea Products – Help in the War on Fleas

Several new products in the fight against fleas and ticks have been added over the past several months. Program®, the flea pill, is available. It contains Iufenuron, a chemical that sterilizes adult fleas causing them to produce eggs that don’t hatch. It is given monthly. Advantage® is a monthly spot-on product that is applied to the skin of the shoulder area. It spreads over the skin in several hours and kills adult fleas on contact. Frontline® is another monthly spon-on product that is useful against fleas ant ticks.

Heartworm Season Is Here

With the advent of warmer Spring weather it’s time to get you dog tested for heartworm disease and be placed on preventative medication.

Recall that heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes and so any dog who gets outside for any length of time is susceptible. A simple blood test checks for the presence of adult worms or the presence of baby heartworms (microfilaria) in the blood. If the dog is negative, monthly preventative medication, Heartgard®, can be started. It takes roughly 6 months to develop a positive test if the dog was bitten by an infected mosquito so we recommend testing in the spring. A minimal recommendation is to test yearly. Even dogs who have been on preventative should be tested annually. The preventative is very safe and is not poisonous.

A new treatment is now available. In the past, intravenous injections of arsenic had be be given to eliminate adult heartworm infection. A new product called Immiticide® is now being used. It is an intramuscular arsenic that requires fewer injections and has fewer side effects.

The cost of prevention is much less than the treatment of heartworm disease and much easier on you dog. Have your dog tested!

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