April 23, 2012
On to something big via the dogs?
Pepe has done probably another dozen spleenectomies since Punta and that first dog. He documented them, took biopsies.
All the cases involved Ehrlichia Canis. the Ehrilichia bacteria that dogs get from a tick bite. It only takes one: my dog seldom sees a tick and gets shots of a repellant fatal to ticks should they bite.
Pepe returned on Friday from Monterray, where he met with the chairman of the veterinary faculty and UNAM.
The chairman told him there might be government money to keep doing the spleenectomies on Isla Mujeres where, it appears to Pepe, and is documented well now, a number of the dogs need the surgery.
Why would the Mexican government care about funding surgeries for dogs? Because this Erhlichia is rapidly mutating, and has affected people in Georgia, Minnesota and Wisonsin in the US. And in Mexico.
Pepe's theory is that it settles in the spleen in dogs and mutates until it forms an autoimmune process, where the cells of the spleen attack other cells of the spleen, much like happens in lupus or multiple sclerosis in humans.
This research would be important for humans, where Ehrlichia could mutate the same way once it enters humans in larger numbers than Wikkipedia notes. The spleen is also hugely important in a variety of immune processes.
In the meantime, Pepe is back on the island, following up his spleenectomy cases and looking for other dogs for whom is it a matter of life and death. And praying for government funding. It is an expensive surgery: over 20 blood vessels need to be tied off before the spleen can be removed. Other organs then take over spleen functions.
And to think, Isla dogs made the bell go off in Pepe's head! And Punta was one of them!