GM1 & GM2 GANGLIOSIDOSIS
Frequently Asked Questions

 

As many of you will already have heard, two different diseases called Gangliosidosis (or GM1 and GM2 for short), have been occuring in Korats in Europe. As many Korats share common ancestors with others world-wide, it is certain that there must be carriers of these diseases within our Korat breeding population.
Genetic tests is now available that will enable us to discover the carrier status of individual Korats.

Vets presently researching in this field are actively encouraging that the Korats currently used for breeding are tested for these diseases to see if they carry them and, if they do, to attempt to prevent the transmission of the genes which cause these diseases.

As this proposal is of great importance to Korat breeders, many of the questions you may have about testing for Gangliosidosis are set down below, answered as honestly and impartially as possible. It is important for breeders to have access to the facts so you can make an informed decision.

Of course there are many other questions that you may want to put. Feel free to ask about whatever you want and we will try to help as much as possible.
Other documents and information sheets about this subject are also avaiable. Do not hesitate to contact any of us and ask!

THE QUESTIONS:

  1. I have never had GM in my stock, neither have the breeders I work with, nor are my lines connected to those I understand to have had this problem. Why is there any need for me to have my cats tested?
  2. What Tests are available?
  3. How do I go about testing, and how much does it cost?
  4. If my breeding cat(s) is shown to be a carrier of either disease, what are my options?
  5. Do I have to test?
  6. If I choose not to have my queen tested, can I still breed Korats and register them?
  7. Are these tests 100% accurate?
  8. Are these diseases infectious?
  9. The sire and dam of my breeding cat(s) are still alive. Will they automatically be tested, and if so, will I still need to test my cat(s)?
  10. What if there is an error in my cat's pedigree?
  11. If I have my cat tested, will the result be strictly confidential?
  12. CREDITS

 

Q. n. 1 - I have never had Gm in my stock, neither have the breeders I work with, nor are my lines connected to those I understand to have had this problem. Why is there any need for me to have my cats tested?

It may be that you are as fortunate as you believe, testing will confirm this for you and you can continue breeding, basing your program on scientific fact rather than assumption. However, until your cats are tested there is always the possibility that you may have a carrier and so be unknowingly spreading a defective gene even further through the breeding population.

The diseases have been on record as occurring for more than 20 years. It is probable that they came in with Korats imported from Thailand.

Therefore it cannot be said with any certainty that a particular line is carrying, or clear. A recessive gene can travel unknown through many generations of healthy cats.

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Q. n. 2 - What Tests are available?

Two types of test are available.
* A molecular test, which looks directly at the sequence of the cat's genes and will identify both types of gangliosidosis. This test will give a result which indicates the cat is either:

(a) clear - the cat does not carry the gene.
(b) carrier - the cat carries the gene but is not affected.
(c) affected - the kitten has the disease. This result is only relevant for sick kittens with suspected GM1/GM2 - no adult breeding stock will be found to be affected, as the disease is fatal in kittenhood.

* Leukocyte hexosaminidase enzyme assay, which was used in experimental (Korat) colonies to detect affected cats and carriers of GM2 before the DNA tests became available. Although this test can be done in some countries, it is for GM2 only, and may not be widely available.

It is stronly suggested that molecular testing be used, as it tests for both diseases, and GM1 appears to be the more common disease in Europe currently based on the results from certain countries. Molecular testing may also be more reliable for the detection of carriers than the enzyme assay.

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Q. n. 3 - How do I go about testing, and how much does it cost?

For the molecular test, a blood sample should be taken, sent to a lab where the DNA will be extracted from the bloodsample, frozen and then sent to USA via courier (UPS, FedEx, DHL - possibly one day delivery) transport. The lab in the USA is not charging for the test at present, but your veterinary surgeon will charge for taking the blood sample, and the courier will also need to be paid.

For further details it is suggested to directly contact:
Dr. Henry J. Baker (for USA breeders)
Dr. Kim Willoughby (for UK breeders)
Dr. Massimo Castagnaro (for European breeders)

Australian and NZ breeders would contact their breed club(s) to request arrangements for screening be organised.

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Q. n. 4 - If my breeding cat(s) is shown to be a carrier of either disease, what are my options?

First, do not worry about the health of your cat, as s/he will not develop the disease. However, if you use him/her for breeding s/he will pass the gene onto 50% of the offspring. If mated with another carrier, on average, 25% of diseased kittens will be produced. If mated with a known clear cat, no diseased kittens will be produced, but on average, 50% of the kittens will be carriers themselves.

There a range of options open to you.

a) You might choose to neuter him/her.
b) You may wish to keep one of his/her kittens in order to preserve the bloodline. To do this you would need to chose a mate that has been tested as negative, then test each kitten and keep one that tests negative.
c) If all your kittens are normally sold as pets, then there is no reason why you can't continue to do this, using a mate that has been tested negative.

However, it is important to repeat that 50% of the kittens born will be carriers themselves. If you did this you would need to consider a contract at the time of sale to ensure that the new owners understand that the kittens should not be bred from. You could ask for them to be neutered by 5 or 6 months old. There is no reason why such kittens can't be shown.

If you test and find yourself in this position other breeders will surely offer help and support in making a decision that is right for you.

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Q. n. 5 - Do I have to test?

No, it is entirely up to you whether you test your cats or not. The veterinary scientists are recommending all Korats used for breeding are tested, but no one can force you to test your cats if you choose not to. You should discuss testing with your vet, but you may need to supply him/her with the relevant literature beforehand as vets here may not be familiar with the disease.

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Q. n. 6 - If I choose not to have my queen tested, can I still breed Korats and register them?

Yes, though you might find that a stud owner refuses to have your queen to stud if she has not been tested. Ultimately, if you mate your queen to a Korat stud that has been tested negative for both diseases, then the kittens you breed should not develop gangliosidosis.

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Q. n. 7 - Are these tests 100% accurate?

That is always difficult to answer. The tests themselves are very accurate, as they rely on the actual gene sequence of the cat. There is always, as with any test, the chance of human error occurring in the collection, handling, labelling and forwarding of samples. If the lab has cause for concern you will be asked for a repeat sample.

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Q. n. 8 - Are these diseases infectious?

NO!

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Q. n. 9 - The sire and dam of my breeding cat(s) are still alive. Will they automatically be tested, and if so, will I still need to test my cat(s)?

It is up to their owners whether they choose to test or not. If they are still being used for breeding then their owner may decide to have them tested. There is nothing to stop you from having your own cat(s) tested anyway.

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Q. n. 10 - What if there is an error in my cat's pedigree?

Breeders certify their pedigree correct to the best of their knowledge and belief. However, it is always possible that a mistake could inadvertently have been made. Human error occurs in all fields of life, not just tests for disease. If you are concerned about this you may want to have your cat(s) tested anyway.

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Q. n. 11 - If I have my cat tested, will the result be strictly confidential?

Yes. Only the testing lab and the cat's owner will be told the result. You may of course choose to tell people your result if you wish - you may even want to if it is negative.

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12 - CREDITS

This document has been written by:

  • Mrs. Mary Saunders, Chandrakan Korat Cattery - Court Farm Sidbury Hill - Sidbury, Devon, England EX10 0QG
  • Dr. Kim Willoughby, BVMS, PhD, MRCV, University of Liverpool, Veterinary Patology Dep. - Neston, South Wirral - L64 77E
  • Mrs. Jen Lacey - Jenanca Korat Cattery, UK - email: jen.lacey@btinternet.com

and has been adapted for Koratworld website by:

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