Some canine conditions are extremely severe, yet scientists and researchers have been unable to find a cure for these conditions. One such condition is canine Chagas, which is potentially fatal for dogs that did not previously have a cure. Recently, there has been some good news in relation to treating this condition, as a pharmaceutical company has announced that they have found a cure.
What is Canine Chagas and What Causes This Condition?
According to Dogtime, canine Chagas is a serious disease that is caused by a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. The most common way that a dog becomes infected is by unknowingly ingesting the feces of kissing bugs. This parasite enters the dog’s bloodstream and then spreads throughout the internal organs. It is particularly serious if it reaches a dog’s brain or heart. Although it is possible for humans to suffer from Chagas, there are no known cases of a human contracting the condition from a dog. The area where dogs are the most likely to contract Chagas is in Central and South America, although there are some cases reported in some parts of the United States, such as Texas.
What Are the Symptoms of Chagas Disease?
The symptoms of Chagas can vary from one dog to another. While some dogs have acute symptoms that are sudden and severe, other dogs suffer from a chronic case of the condition with symptoms that develop and worsen gradually. In many cases, a dog will have an asymptomatic period where there are no symptoms at all, even if the parasitic infection has begun to damage the internal organs. This asymptomatic period can last for months or even years. The most serious issue is that the parasites can begin to cause the degeneration of the heart. Some of the other symptoms of Chagas include:
- Weakness and lethargy
- Exercise intolerance and difficulty walking
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Congestive heart failure
- Sudden death
Until recently, there was no cure for canine Chagas, and veterinarians could only treat the symptoms of the condition. However, Dogster announced that a pharmaceutical company called Vida Pharmacal believe that they have now found a cure for the condition based on the results of a multicentre field study. Their findings have enabled them to develop a details treatment protocol that improves the symptoms of the disease and increases a dog’s chance of survival.
The Study and Findings
Biospace describes Vida Pharmacal as a developer of pharmaceuticals that specifically targets Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) for veterinary patients. The company has headquarters are in Bulverde, Texas. Vida Pharmacal began their research more than a decade ago and then patented their treatment plan in 2016. Once they had the treatment patented, they could begin their multicenter field study to see if their treatment achieved positive results. Roy Madigan D.V.M., who is the founder and CEO of Vida Pharmacal, has said that they are incredibly encouraged by the results of their study, Only 53 percent of the control patients survived Chagas disease, while the survivability rate of those receiving the treatment rose to 95.3 percent. Similarly, the control dogs only showed 23 percent clinical improvement, while those receiving treatment experienced 98.2 percent clinical improvement.
The dogs used in the study were a combination of dogs that were already presenting with the symptoms of canine Chagas, along with military working dogs from the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Vida Pharmacal also tested their treatment on marine mammals and primates. In this part of the study, the treatment had a 100 percent success rate. The company published the results of their study, which was titled ‘Successful Treatment of Canine Chagas Disease’, in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association in August 2019. The findings of this study offer hope to millions of dogs and many other animals. It is even possible that the findings of the study could impact on finding a cure for people who contract the disease.
Availability of the Treatment
Although the results of the study are excellent, it is likely that the treatment will not be commercially available for some time yet. Before it can become commercially available, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must review the treatment. This is a process that is already underway. Once approval has been achieved, Vida Pharmaceutical can begin to produce and market the treatment. They will distribute the treatment through existing veterinary pharmaceutical distribution channels.
Further Studies into Canine Chagas
Although Vida Pharmacals is the first company to potentially find a cure for canine Chagas, they are far from the first to research a potential cure. One example of another study is one that took place in 2012. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of benznidazole on the cardiac prognosis of dogs with Chagas disease using an experimental dog model of infection. In this study by Santos, FM. et al, 28 dogs were divided into three groups. Eight were healthy and not infected by parasites, 10 were infected and treated with benznidazole, and 10 were infected but not treated. Unfortunately, the results of the study were not promising. After 12 months, the researchers found that the presence of the parasites was similar in both the infected but untreated group and the group that was infected and received the treatment.
Furthermore, their overall findings revealed that while the use of benznidazole was successful in reducing cardiac function alteration, it did not prevent the development of cardiomyopathy. Therefore, benznidazole is not considered an effective treatment. Other studies have also been unsuccessful in finding a cure for canine Chagas. This means that the success of Vida Pharmacal is big news in the world of veterinary medicine as it could significantly reduce the number of dogs suffering from this potentially fatal condition.