Vizsla Myositis/Polymyositis



There is a newly recognised disease in the Hungarian Vizsla. It is a breed specific presentation of Polymyositis. The principal clinical signs are 

  • swallowing problems, 
  • excessive foamy drooling
  • muscle wasting (especially around the head)

Visit a description on the website of the Comparitive Neuromuscular Laboratory in San Diego.

Visit the website of RCVS and European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology - Clare Rusbridge - (BVMS, PhD, DipECVN, MRCVS) for disease information.

Visit a website that describes a DNA sample collection scheme.

Scroll right down for a great deal more information on polymyositis in affected UK vizslas and there is also some guidance to help vets reach a correct diagnosis by distinguishing the condition from other myopathies.

Please also look at the links in the adjoining sidebar for some video clips and other useful information. The following images illustrate typical muscle wasting in the temporal and masseter areas (click on each for a high resolution picture)




Recently here in the UK there has been a very worrying number of young Hungarian Vizslas diagnosed with myositis (muscle inflammation) or polymyositis. Typical onset is usually in adolescence or maybe up to about two years of age (worryingly though some recent cases have been considerably later) and frequently there is an initial acute episode of retching, gagging, choking, dysphagia and hypersalivation. Sometimes the onset is more insidious with inefficient and messy eating and drinking being noted. Often there is an initial diagnosis of megaoesophagus. Fatigue, significantly elevated CK levels, an absence of a gag reflex, voice change, aspiration pneumonia and lameness/stiffness of gait are other common findings. Muscle wasting in the temporal and masseter areas usually follows.

We think the illness is immune mediated and on the basis of several very close family relationships (siblings for example) we believe it to be genetic.

Where cases have been fully investigated, infectious causes of muscle inflammation (such as neosporosis or toxoplasmosis) are invariably ruled out. So too are myaesthenia gravis and masticatory muscle myositis.

With prompt diagnosis and treatment polymyositis can usually be well controlled with combined immune suppressive protocols - typically Prednisone + Imuran (azathioprine) + gastroprotectants - these medications to be only very gradually tapered. Recently some specialists have also introduced Cyclosporine/Atopica (another immune suppressant) Careful monitoring of these regimes is vital. Here is an important document prepared by G. Diane Shelton DVM, PhD, DACVIM to help veterinarians correctly distinguish and diagnose muscle disease in the vizsla.
Below are links to some video clips that illustrate typical dysphagia. The food is not "vomited" Nor is it regurgitated from the oesophagus. Its problem is in leaving the mouth. It appears evident that the swallowing problem is at the level of the pharynx. We wonder too whether these vizslas' tongues are functioning properly. Sometimes normal lapping and licking seem not to be evident.

View "Spice's" eating difficulties. Increasingly slimy food is returned to the bowl many times before successful swallowing can finally be achieved.

View "Spice's" drinking problems.Despite great effort the level of the water in the drinking bowl does not go down and eventually the bowl is full of slobber and food particles.

View how similar are "Amber's" efforts. This girl is luckier than many. She still has reasonably efficient tongue function and since immune suppressive treatment her swallowing too has improved.

In cases where the vizsla finds it difficult to eat from a bowl because of impaired tongue function then spoon-feeding can be helpful. View the technique.

 We become increasingly interested in other immune mediated or "auto-immune " diseases in the vizsla. A new investigation is here. Many of our case study vizslas have had IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) or other GI (Gastro-Intestinal) problems. Skin problems and allergies too. It becomes clear that many immune-mediated illnesses can be concommitant (ie happening together) with polymyositis.

We would be very pleased indeed to hear from anybody who knows of a vizsla with the type of illnesses that we are describing. It is vital for the future wellbeing of this lovely breed that everybody with any information contacts us so that the widest possible picture can be discerned.

If you can help then please contact I am also delighted to speak on the telephone 01576 202258

Please be assured that the sole purpose of the research is to determine the aetiology of this poorly defined illness and hopefully if possible to minimise its incidence. All information is treated with total confidence.

We will be posting updates when we can.