2631: Polymerase Chain Reaction for Herpesviruses From Paraffinized Brains and Fresh Tissues in Cases of Pug Dog Encephalitis

Grant Status: Closed

Grant Amount: $34,451
Stephen C. Barr, PhD; Cornell University
April 1, 2004 - March 31, 2005

Sponsor(s): Collie Health Foundation, Golden Retriever Foundation, Newfoundland Club of America Charitable Trust, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, San Joaquin Kennel Club

Breed(s): Pug
Research Program Area: Neurology
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Pug Dog encephalitis (PDE) is a fatal brain disease of young Pugs for which the casuse is currently unknown. Anecdotally, the disease is over-represented in certain families of Pugs, and most investigators believe that the Pug Dog has a genetic predisposition for the development of this condition. Interestingly, similar brain diseases have been described in a variety of other small breed dogs, most notably the Yorkshire Terrier and Maltese. As no definitive inheritance pattern has been identified in any breed, we believe that the cause is multifactorial. We hypothesize that PDE is secondary to an inherited genetic defect that causes an exaggerated, fatal immune response following a herpesvirus infection. We are most suspicious of a herpesvirus because the clinical signs and brain lesions seen in PDE are remarkably similar to those appreciated in people with herpes simplex virus encephalitis. We plan to use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a molecular biology tool, to study archival Pug brains (collected over the years from dogs that have died from PDE) for the presence of herpesvirus DNA. The identification of a herpesviral cause for PDE would revolutionize the way we diagnose and treat this fatal disease.


Schatzberg, S. J., Haley, N. J., Barr, S. C., de Lahunta, A., & Sharp, N. J. H. (2005). Polymerase chain reaction screening for DNA viruses in paraffin-embedded brains from dogs with necrotizing meningoencephalitis, necrotizing leukoencephalitis, and granulomatous meningoencephalitis. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 19(4), 553–559.

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