Thursday, 4 September 2008

Yozhik and WHS

Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a disease found in hedgehogs that is closely related to multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans. The disease is prominent in the domesticated hedgehog, some believe it maybe genetic but there are many theories.

As with MS, WHS slowly degrades the hedgehog's muscle control. This first appears as a wobble while the hedgehog is attempting to stand still, then more and more as he walks and move. As the dieses progresses he will have trouble walking and moving, and start to lose his gross motor skills. Over time, the hedgehog will lose control of all muscles; he will be in considerable pain and discomfort.

There is no known cure for WHS and diagnosis can only be confirmed with an autopsy. Common treatments for MS have shown similar effects in hedgehogs as they do in humans, like vitamin E, which hides the effects of WHS, but does not slow the disease. A resistance to vitamin E will form and the effects of the disease will continue. It is a fatal disease and many owners choose to euthanasia their pets before the symptoms make the hedgehog uncomfortable (in pain).

I have only recently heard of this disease and considering my immense research on APH before and after I adopted Mr Toffee I am surprised it slipped by me. Luckily for Mr T and I there have been no known cases of WHS in Britain, and APH have been breed here for 15 years. That maybe why I haven't heard of it before now, and I'm glad to hear there are no known cases within the population, which means if the disease is genetic that there is little if any chance of Mr Toffee or other UK hogs suffering from it. *Phew* I was quite worried there for a moment! The first time I heard of WHS was after watching a very sad video on you tube, a touching tribute to Yozhik who died of WHS and I highly recommend taking a look (warning it's a tear jerker).