SARASOTA, FL (PRWEB) July 16, 2009 — As the New Jersey Senate considers designating August as Meningitis Awareness Month, veterinary neurologist, Dr. Anne Chauvet, is encouraging dog owners to increase their awareness of canine meningitis for their dogs’ health.
Although some forms of meningitis can be fatal, in most dogs it can be treated successfully if the disease is caught early and the dog receives proper veterinary care, which is why awareness of the disease, its symptoms and treatment is important, said Dr. Anne Chauvet, founder of Veterinary Neuro Services.
“I commend the New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee for approving legislation that would help raise awareness of this disease in humans,” Chauvet said, “and I hope that pet owners will become as aware of the symptoms and the importance of early treatment for their dogs.” The bill, SJR-65, to designate August as Meningitis Awareness Month, was introduced by Senator Sean T. Kean, R-11.
Meningitis, which is an inflammation of the membrane (meninges) that wraps the brain and spinal cord, may be caused in dogs by tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and ehrlichiosis or parasitic diseases like toxoplasmosis. A common cause of meningitis in dogs is a central nervous system disease known as granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis (GME,) and toy or small breeds may be susceptible to meningitis caused by immune dysfunction, Chauvet said.
Sterile (or idiopathic) meningitis is the most common form of canine meningitis, and usually occurs in young dogs a year old or less. Sterile meningitis symptoms typically are neck pain along with a fever that waxes and wanes. Other symptoms of meningitis can include changes in gait where the dog looks as though he is walking on eggshells, she said. Affected dogs may have a lot of pain everywhere except their joints, which is one way to distinguish sterile meningitis from polyarthritis and other conditions that exhibit painful joints. Neurological symptoms, such as seizures or blindness, usually are not present unless the disease is advanced.
A meningitis diagnosis can be confirmed with a spinal tap when the spinal fluid shows a very high number of white blood cells and high levels of protein. An MRI also is an important diagnostic tool that can rule out a disc herniation, infection or other problem that could cause the symptoms, Chauvet said.
Sterile meningitis is treated with high doses of steroids, such as prednisone, to suppress the immune system supported with doxycyline, an antibiotic. Sometimes more advanced treatments or combination therapies are required, such as immunoglobulin therapy or chemotherapy drugs, depending on the patient’s need. In most cases, the dog responds quickly and is back to normal in a few days, Chauvet said, but treatment must be extended over weeks and sometimes months with most dogs recovering fully.
About Veterinary Neuro Services:
Dr. Anne Chauvet, one of about 150 veterinary neurologists and neurosurgeons in North America, is the founder of Veterinary Neuro Services in Sarasota, Fla. Veterinary Neuro Services treats brain, spinal cord and neuromuscular conditions in animals and is the only strictly neurology and neurosurgery practice on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
More information is available by calling 941-929-1818 or online at www.PetNeuro.com.