What do I need to know about meningitis in dogs
The term meningitis is commonly recognised in human medicine as an extremely aggressive, rapidly progressive fatal condition, most commonly seen in children. In humans, it is generally associated with infectious causes, bacterial or viral. In dogs, 2 immune-mediated types of meningeal inflammation are significantly more common than infectious causes, namely the meningoencephalitis of unknown origin (MUO) and steroid responsive meningitis-arteritis (SRMA). The MUOs are considered fatal conditions if untreated but can have different presentations and be challenging to diagnose; approximately 25% of patients die within the first week but long-term prognosis can vary significantly. SRMA is easier to recognise and diagnose and has carries an excellent prognosis. Treatment for both conditions relies on the use of corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive medications but it is important clinicians understand both conditions well and can distinguish them from the less common but more aggressive, infectious causes of meningitis.
Recording from 7 July 2021
Rita Goncalves, DVM, MVM, DipECVN, FHEA, MRCVS
After working as a small animal practitioner in Yorkshire and undertaking an internship at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, Rita completed her residency in Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow. She became a European and RCVS Recognised Specialist in Neurology in 2008 and currently heads the Neurology and Neurosurgery service of the University of Liverpool where she works as a Senior Lecturer. Rita was the founding president of the British Veterinary Neurology Society (BVNS) and has been chairperson of the scientific and currently the credential committee of the European College of Veterinary Neurology (ECVN). She is currently undertaking a part-time PhD in identification of novel biomarkers in meningoencephalitis of unknown origin in dogs as she has a special interest in inflammatory conditions affecting the nervous system.