What Is Episodic Falling?
Episodic Falling (EF) is a syndrome of muscle stiffness and collapse. Episodes are induced by exercise or excitement and can manifest themselves as simply rigidity in the hindquarters, falling, or in seizure-like events lasting from minutes to hours. During events the dogs are conscious and aware. Although symptoms almost always arise by five months of age, there is no pattern of progression and episodes can be less or more severe over time. EF is often misdiagnosed as epilepsy as it is relatively unknown, but drugs are available to treat Episodic Falling that are not used in epilepsy, so the correct diagnosis is critical. Direct observation, a video or description of symptoms reviewed by a veterinarian are the only way to diagnose Episodic Falling. There are no other tests. For purposes of the research, a description of symptoms is adequate. Test breeding results along with pedigree analysis indicate that EF is a recessive genetic disorder.
Cavalier Episodic Falling
Royal Spaniels (ISSUES: Fall 2004, Summer 2005, and Fall 2005)
Episodic Falling (UK)
Dr. Jacques Penderis, BVSc, MVM. PhD, Cert VR, DipECVN, MRCVS, RCVS and European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology is leading the research.
Dr. Penderis has, almost single-handed, been researching this condition for a number of years with extremely limited funds. He is now working with Dr Cathryn Mellersh PhD, Head of the Genetic Department at the Animal Health Trust in Cambridge.
Dr. Mellersh has managed to secure funds to employ a full time student, Oliver Foreman, to work on three canine neurological disorders at the AHT, one of which will be Episodic Falling in Cavaliers.
Dr. Penderis, Dr Mellersh and Mr Foreman will also be working with Professor Robert Harvey (Neuro-science and Genetics) from The School of Pharmacology.
Professor Harvey is working on Hyperkplexia, a human disorder for which he has found new genes that could be related to EF, hence his interest in the CKCS. This is very exciting and could be a major breakthrough.