KZN dog survives rare human disease

2013-10-21 00:00

SHE’S a blonde beauty and a celebrity too. She’s the dog who nearly died after contracting Guillain Barre syndrome — a rare disease mainly known to affect humans.

Love and specialist care have ensured Rosie, an 18-month-old golden retriever, is on the mend. She was rushed to the vet in Durban after developing sudden paralysis in her back legs.

Her owners, Dain and Nick van der Ruy­den from Durban, were very anxious. She was the youngest of their two golden retrievers and they were extremely fond of her.

Their local vet realised that the paralysis was spreading and that the dog would need specialised care. He referred them to the Hilton Veterinary Hospital where specialist vet Dr Martin de Scally has the equipment to handle complicated cases.

De Scally realised that Rosie was deteriorating rapidly and she would need to be put on a ventilator and diagnosed quickly. The beautiful and sunny Rosie was sinking fast.

Her condition was determined through a process of elimination and it was decided the dog had a very rare case of Guillain Barre syndrome.

This syndrome is usually associated with humans, and affected popular radio traffic presenter Johan von Bargen (JVB) from East Coast Radio, this year.

The syndrome is rare in dogs.

The dog’s immune system becomes over stimulated after fighting an infection and then turns on itself, causing nerve damage and paralysis. If the syndrome is not diagnosed within days, the consequences are fatal, as breathing is affected. The only way to control the condition is to have intensive nursing and rehabilitation to prevent muscle and nerve damage while the nerves regenerate.

Rosie has progressed wonderfully in the three months she has been an in- patient at the Hilton Veterinary Hospital and she is a favourite with the staff. Her “parents” visit her at the weekends but currently they are overseas.

Recently, she has started swimming with veterinary nurse Lauren Dommett to strengthen her limbs.

Dommett said: “She is able to stand on her own for a few seconds and her front legs have fully recovered, it’s the back ones that need some more exercise.”

Rosie has recovered her bark and she happily watches the vets do their consultations from her mat in the back yard. She needs to be moved every two hours and walked with a harness as often as possible. Visitors are welcome.

Dr Derek Clover says that her calm nature and sunny disposition has made her a good candidate for rehabilitation. “In a lengthy recovery like this many dogs get very depressed and the cost is prohibitive. But she is very patient and co- operative and she has become the mini-celeb in our surgery. Everyone wants to know how Rosie is doing.”

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