BTHG Report - 2011

In 2011 the meeting of the BTHG, normally held in February prior to the breed clubs round of AGMs, had to be cancelled because of the extreme weather and regrettably, for a variety of reasons, it proved difficult to organise formal meetings during the rest of the year.

However, in many respects, the year proved to be a somewhat uneventful from the point of view of Bedlington Terrier health matters and any matters requiring the attention of the Health Group were adequately dealt with by email/telephone or the occasional direct contact at dog shows.  Moreover, any relevant information was posted on the Bedlington Terrier Health Group website where this was considered necessary.

This report is in lieu of Minutes of formal meetings.

Outstanding matters arising from previous meetings.

1. Publication of COMMD1 Results.

For some time the Health Group have been trying to establish a way in which results of COMMD1 tests for copper toxicosis could be made available to interested “parties” without falling foul of the confidentiality requirements of the Data Protection Act.  The attention of the Health Group was drawn to the scheme administered by the Kennel Club and advice was sought on how the breed clubs might participate in the scheme.

The Health Group were fully aware of the fact that anomalous results had occurred with both the DNA C04107 marker test and the DNA COMMD1 test for copper toxicosis. Moreover, one of the findings of the research that identified the COMMD1 gene virtually eliminated genetic recombination (a cross-over event) as the cause of these anomalies, the obvious conclusion being that neither test was 100% accurate and that a second gene was involved.

However, despite this, the Health Group agreed, after considerable discussion, to ask the three breed clubs for their approval to join the KC Scheme for Publication of COMMD1 results on their behalf rather than delaying any request to join the scheme until the question of “a second gene” had been resolved and a new DNA test developed.  At the 2011 round of AGMs the members of the clubs agreed to the Health Groups request and this scheme is now in place.

2. Amended BTHG Constitution.

Amendments to the Health Group constitution recommended by members of the three breed clubs at their 2010 round of AGMs have been incorporated into the constitution.  The new, amended constitution was ratified at the 2011 round of breed club AGMs and a copy was subsequently posted on BTHG website.

3. A BTHG Contact Facility.

In response to a request from a number of Bedlington Terrier owners, a facility to enable the Bedlington Terrier Health Group to be contacted by email has now been made available on the Home page of the Health Group’s website.

Copper Toxicosis Research.

Copper toxicosis continued to be the important health issue within the breed.  The realisation that the inheritance of the condition is not as straight-forward as initially postulated and that there is the likelihood that a second mutation may be involved has prompted further research.

Dr Susan Haywood (Veterinary Pathologist at Liverpool University) was granted funds by the KC Charitable Trust to carry out the research in the UK with the genetic aspects of the research work originally being undertaken by Dr Cathryn Mellersh and her team at the AHT.  However, in February 2011 this work was transferred to Liverpool University.

Since then, several updates have been received:

a. In October 2011 it was reported that the work of DNA sequencing of the samples had been completed and that work was starting on the analysis of the sequence data.

b. The latest report, received in January 2012, indicated that the analysis was progressing well.  However, to use Dr Heywood’s words – “I didn’t quite realise the complexity of the situation     and underestimated the time necessary for analysis of the sequencing data”.  She does, however, feel that progress is being made and remains optimistic.

The Kennel Club Breed Health Coordinator’s Seminar.

A Breed Health Coordinator’s seminar was held at the KC building at Stoneleigh Park on the 18th November, 2011.

Following an introduction by Dr Jeff Sampson, KC Canine Genetics Coordinator, two members of the KC staff gave a PowerPoint presentation, the underlying theme of which was to demonstrate how a well-designed website could be used effectively to project information.

This was followed by two papers:

1. “Mate Selection and Estimated Breeding Values” (Dr Sarah Blott, AHT geneticist).

The use of the new Mate Select initiative, recently introduced by the Kennel Club, and how this was to be developed in the future was explained by Dr Blott.

2. “Breed Surveys – the Basics of Survey Design, Execution and Analysis Mr Dan O’Neill).

The Kennel Club is conscious of the fact that the results of their own survey were published in 2004 and that there is a need to collect and collate more information on canine health matters.  To  this end they would like breed clubs/societies to undertake their own “in breed”  surveys.  The  basic principles of survey design and use were explained by Mr O’Neill.

Summaries of the seminar proceedings were made available and these were subsequently copied to members of the Health Group.  Following on from this, two items (Website design and Health Surveys) have been “tabled” as agenda items for discussion at the next meeting of the Health Group.

Concern over “inaccurate” information.

Regrettably, it is noticeable that some websites have failed to update their information on copper toxicosis to take into account the current situation, specifically in relation to testing. This is particularly disturbing when one considers that the information has often been compiled by a veterinary surgeon.

It is difficult to postulate how this problem can be resolved.  

However, the Health Group has been in contact with “owner” of a recently posted website on “dog health” pointing out discrepancies in the information on copper toxicosis and she has agreed to review this in the light of any suggestions made and to amend the site content, where necessary .

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