Parkville Missouri

Press Release: No Correlation Between Dog Disease And Platte Landing Park




PARKVILLE, MO, AUGUST 26, 2014 –Today the City was made aware of concerns of a possible connection between a dog disease (Dysautonomia) and the new dog park in Platte Landing Park. Misinformation is circulating via social media, and the City encourages dog park patrons to learn all of the facts. City Administrator Lauren Palmer consulted with Dr. Dennis O’Brien, DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Veterinary Neurology with the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia; and Dr. Kenneth Harkin, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), Professor and Section Head, Small Animal Internal Medicine, with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Dr. O’Brien and Dr. Harkin are experts on the disease.

Dysautonomia is a disease that affects the nervous system in dogs and is routinely fatal. The illness in dogs is geographically limited to southern and western Missouri, eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, northern Colorado, and southern Wyoming. The cause is unknown, so there is no prevention available. There is no indication whatsoever that humans can contract this illness through contact with their infected pets.

Dr. O’Brien states, “This is an enigma of a disease, so unfortunately I can’t tell you how to prevent it.” Dr. Harkin agrees that, “there is no way to know if a park is at risk for transmitting the disease since we don’t know the cause.” The top risk factors include a rural environment (especially land used for cattle grazing), seasonality (primarily early winter), and geographic location. However, the specific cause is a mystery.

The Platte Landing Park dog park is open for visitors. Of the hundreds of dogs that have enjoyed the dog park since its grand opening in June, the City is only aware of two possible cases of Dysautonomia in dogs who may have visited the dog park. There is no direct correlation to establish that the disease was related to those visits, so there is no justification to close the park. The City will stay in contact with animal health professionals to determine if other action is needed in the future. Local veterinarians are asked to contact the City of Parkville with information regarding other suspected cases. In the meantime, visitors are reminded that there is always some risk in using group pet areas, such as dog parks or boarding facilities, so it is important to adhere to the dog park rules at all times. Pet owners must use their own good judgment to determine if visiting the dog park is right for their pets.

The University of Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory collected soil samples from the park last Friday for research purposes only. No testing is being done at this time. The samples have been banked and may be included in future analyses regarding the disease. There is no local, state, or federal regulatory action pending. Dr. O’Brien stated that soil testing has limited application because, “we don’t know what to look for.”

Dr. Harkin adds, “This is an uncommon time of year for Dysautonomia. It is important to actually establish the diagnosis.” There are other routine animal illnesses that may mimic the symptoms of Dysautonomia. If you suspect your animal has Dysautonomia, ask your veterinarian to contact Dr.
O’Brien at (573) 882-7821 for consultation as needed.

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