What is Spinocerebellar Ataxia?
The term cerebellum in Latin means “the little brain.” The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for coordinating movements. Ataxia comes from a Greek term meaning “without order”. When the cerebellum cannot coordinate movement, the dog can move, but the movement is poorly coordinated. They are not weak, in fact, often the movements a dog with ataxia makes are too strong. They have a goose-stepping gait and when excited or running, their legs may appear to be going every which-way. Sometimes they have problems with their balance and will fall frequently. In order for the cerebellum to control movement, it needs to get feedback about what the muscles are doing. This feedback comes to the brain through the spinal cord. When there are changes in the spinal cord in a dog with cerebellar ataxia, the disease is often called spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA).
Spinocerebellar Ataxia may be tested in any breed and is recommended for the following breeds:
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Parson Russell Terrier
- Russell Terrier
- Toy Fox Terrier
- Smooth Fox Terrier
- Tenterfield Terrier
Tests are ordered online through the secure area of the OFA website. Payment is accepted by credit card (MasterCard and VISA). The OFA administers all order handling. Upon receipt of an order, the OFA will send out the test kit which will include a Foam-Tipped Applicator card for DNA sample collection, along with sample collection instructions. Using the FTA card technology, owners can safely collect DNA samples at home. The collection process is non-invasive, and no veterinary appointment is necessary.
Samples are then sent to the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine where the samples will be processed by the Small Animal Molecular Genetics Lab. Results will be forwarded to the OFA, and the OFA will issue the resulting report to the owner.
The fee for each test includes the test kit, laboratory processing, and subsequent registration in the OFA databases.