About megaesophagus in English

     Since April 2014 there has been sudden increase in megaesophagus and laryngeal paralysis cases diagnosed in dogs in Latvia.  By the end of December 2015 there have been 140 confirmed cases and case number is rising. In comparison, in previous years there have been fewer than 10 such cases all together. 
    In May, 2015 Latvian Veterinary association and Latvian Ministry of Agriculture launched a study to investigate the outbreak.  Affected dogs are adults (1-12 years old; mean 6 years old), mainly large breed and mixed breed dogs.  Clinical signs are regurgitation / vomiting  (94%), dyspnea and cough (78%), dysphonia (72%), >10% weight loss (61%), weakness (52%), 17% dogs have died or are euthanized because of extreme weakness, wasting or difficulty clinically managing this.
Neurotoxin is suspected as a cause.  Source or nature of the toxic substance is not known yet; however one common denominator identified in the study has been dog food (locally made) -- 94% of dogs have consumed the same brand of dog food.  Blood and tissue samples have been collected from affected dogs along with the feed. Heavy metals, thallium and acrylamide have been ruled out as causes because these substances were not found either in blood / serum or feed.  Most of the tests for botulism have been negative so far; testing of feces is still in progress.   More about results so far and further testing plans here.
    Please contact us if you see similar increase in megaesophagus and laryngeal  cases in your clinics / countries or if you have any comments or suggestions in regards to investigation of such outbreak (lvbsuni@gmail.com). We are greatful to all colleagues who have previously provided very useful input.  
We have prepared 2 surveys in English:  
  1. we use this questionare for our cases and would be glad if you would fill it out for yours. The link is here.  If you prefer pdf, the file is here.
  2. Survey for incidence of ME in your clinic in the last 5 years -- the goal of this survey is to see if there may be similar increase in ME cases elsewhere.  This short survey collects data about ME cases and total number of  canine patients in the clinic in the last 5 years.  The link to survey is here.

More detailed Information about ME cases:
  • results of retrospective study (April 2014-May 2015) 
  • preliminary results of prospective study (May 2015-December 2015) here

Map of distribution of cases until May 15, 2015.

Information updated: 15.02.2016.
Author: Ilze Matise-VanHoutan



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