Health Articles

Bichon Frise CERF Statistics Since 1991

by Vickie Halstead RN, CVNS, CCRN, CEN, LNC

 
As chairman of the BFCA health committee, I receive CERF statistics yearly that commenced in 1991 and do not include names of dogs. So it is my duty to report these statistics to Bichon breeders and owners, which will be cumulative.

The data in this report originates only from Bichons that have completed CERF exams. Even if you did not send your CERF exam report into CERF, one copy of the form is sent to CERF by the ophthalmologist, which remains anonymous. As you view these numbers, keep in mind that many more Bichons are not CERF examined, and the Bichons that are CERF examined are predominately owned by responsible breeders. Therefore, the incidence of juvenile cataracts in the breed is much higher than is reflected in this report, about 12% according to Dr. Gelatt who completed research on the Bichon cataracts.

Some Bichon breeders do not CERF their breeding animals yearly, yet some CERF them at a certain age and stop, perhaps thinking that is adequate. According to Dr. Kirk Gelatt from the CERF data, the average age of diagnosis of the Bichon cataracts was 5-6 years, but the range was 3-10 years. The age of onset can be as young as 1-2 years. Cataracts that begin beyond the age of 10 years therefore are categorized as old age cataracts and are not genetic. If the cataracts begin between 8-10 years of age, the ophthalmologist can differentiate the old age cataracts versus the genetic cataracts by their characteristics. Dr. Gelatt still recommends the first CERF exam be completed at 1 year of age. With this in mind, BFCA urges you to CERF annually while you are using your Bichons for breeding. According to CERF, your certificate is only valid for one year so you cannot state that your dog is CERF certified if the year has elapsed. If you do not send the CERF form that the ophthalmologist completes into CERF, your data is not registered and will not appear on the OFA web site.

Definitions

  1. Corneal dystrophy: A non-inflammatory degeneration of the cornea causing opacity (white to gray) in one or more of the corneal layers. It is usually inherited and bilateral. See this article for more information http://www.bichonhealth.org/HealthInfo/CornealDystrophy.asp
  2. Distichiasis: Eyelashes that are abnormally located on the rim of the eyelid, causing irritation of the eyes that may occur at any age. The hereditary basis has not been established but is suspected to be genetic. Breeding discretion is advised.
  3. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): Degeneration of the specialized light-sensitive cells of the retina, causing blindness. In most breeds the mode of inheritance is autosomal recessive. Breeding of affected dogs is not recommended.
  4. Retinal dysplasia/folds: Abnormal development of the layers of the retina that may result in folds in the layers. It can develop at any age, but if seen in puppies it may resolve with maturity. In most cases it is genetic, and if so is usually bilateral. See this article for more information http://www.bichonhealth.org/HealthInfo/RetinalDysplasia.asp
  5. Cataracts: An opacity that develops in the lens of they eye. See this article for more information http://www.bichonhealth.org/HealthInfo/CataractInheritance.asp
  6. Punctate cataract, significance unknown: Tiny dot on the lens that rarely progresses to true cataract, and rarely may be caused by trauma or infection. If on anterior lens, they are even less likely to progress to genetic cataracts because the Bichon genetic cataracts develop on the posterior lens. If no progression, genetic cataracts can be ruled out and breeding is allowed.
  7. Persistent papillary membranes (PPM): Remnants of fetal blood vessels that fail to regress and persist as strands of tissue crossing the pupil. The location of PPM in the eye dictates whether the dog will pass or fail CERF. If the strands bridge between the iris and other structures in they eye, they may be associated with corneal opacities and vision impairment, so that dog will not pass CERF. If the strands bridge from iris to iris, that dog will pass CERF with “breeders option” recommendations.

 

Interpretation of the CERF statistics

  1. CERF testing of Bichons has remained stable at around 400-500 dogs per year, with 2000 being the year of the highest level of testing.
  2. The incidence of corneal dystrophy has remained stable at 3-4%.
  3. The incidence of PRA has remained stable at around 1%.
  4. The incidence of retinal dysplasia/folds has remained stable at around 1%.
  5. The incidence of punctate cataracts, significance unknown, has remained stable at 4-6% until 2007 when it increased to 9%.
  6. The incidence of genetic cataracts remained stable at 5-10% prior to 2005 when it increased to 13%, and remains there in 2007.
  7. The incidence of PPM has remained stable at around 1-3% until 2006 when it increased to 5%. This condition deserves to be watched closely.

 

Bichon Frise CERF Statistics 1991-2007

  1991 THROUGH 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
TOTAL NUMBER OF BICHONS TESTED 2478 616 383 530 454 415 455 504 431
CORNEAL DYSTROPHY 81 = 3%  15 = 2% 14 = 4% 16 = 3% 14 = 3% 20 = 5% 19 = 4% 20 = 4% 18 = 4%
DISTICHIASIS (EYELASHES) 66 = 2.7% 21 = 3% 18 = 5% 19 = 3.5% 8 = 2% 23 = 5% 18 = 4% 21 = 4% 13 = 3%
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA) 24 = 1% 6 = 1% 1 = 0.3% 1 = 0.2% 7 = 1.5% 2 = 0.5% 1 = 0.2% 2 = 0.4% 2 = 0.4%
RETINAL DYSPLASIA
/FOLDS
27 = 1% 5 = 0.8% 1 = 0.3% 3 = 0.6% 1 = 0.2% 5 = 1% 1 = 0.2% 3 = 0.6% 3 = 0.7%
PUNCTATE CATARACTS, SIGNIFICANCE UNKNOWN 136 = 5% 39 = 6% 21 = 5% 27 = 5% 17 = 4% 16 = 4% 22 = 5% 30 = 6% 40 = 9%
CATARACTS (ANTERIOR & POSTERIOR LENS) 183 = 7% 44 = 7% 19 = 5% 37 = 7% 45 = 10% 20 = 5% 61 = 13% 49 = 10% 55 = 13%
PERSISTENT PUPILLARY MEMBRANES (PPM) 85 = 3% 13 = 2% 10 = 3% 3 = 0.6% 6 = 1% 14 = 3% 15 = 3% 24 = 5% 17 = 4%