Friday, November 27, 2009

3D study of neck anatomy

Wobbler syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Malformation, CVM) is a common condition of Thoroughbred horses. Affected horses have a characteristic “wobbly” gait, caused by compression of the spinal cord.

In some cases, the signs of Wobbler Syndrome (Cervical Vertebral Malformation, CVM) have been linked to arthritic changes in the cervical articular process joints. These are the joints between adjacent vertebrae in the neck. They can become inflamed, which can result in soft tissue swelling, thickening of the joint capsule and new bone formation. The joints lie close to the spinal cord, so any increase in their size is a cause for concern.

Some “wobblers” have marked bony and soft tissue swelling around the joints. But does an increase in fluid in these joints result in spinal cord compression, even if no other bony of soft tissue changes are present? If so, it might be possible to prevent the disease progressing by detecting and treating the inflammation at an early stage.

Holly Claridge, working at the Royal Veterinary College, conducted a study using Computed Tomography to examine the structure of the horse’s neck. She found that the joints these joints do indeed extend towards, but do not actually touch, the spinal cord.

So, unless soft tissue or bony changes are also present, it seems unlikely that inflammation or swelling of these joints causes spinal cord compression.

More details...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Inner secrets of Rhodococcus equi

Work to understand the genetic structure of Rhodococcus equi may lead to new measures to control disease in foals. Understanding the complex mechanisms used by the bacteria to cause disease may reveal the microbe’s “Achilles heel” that could be targeted by vaccines and drugs.

“Among the virulence factors we have identified, we have found one in particular that we think might be a good target for a vaccine” says Professor Jose Vazquez-Boland of Edinburgh University. Pathogenic strains of the bacteria have long processes or “pili”, with which they attach to the host cells.

“We identified the genes responsible and produced antibodies against them.” These antibodies prevent the bacteria attaching to the cells and so prevent infection getting established. So this would be a good candidate for a vaccine.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How effective is your deworming program?

The importance of knowing that your worm control program is effective was emphasized by Professor Jacqui Matthews when she spoke at the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar at Cheltenham.

The cyathostomins (small strongyles) are the most important group of intestinal parasites of the horse - both numerically, and through their ability to cause disease. They are becoming increasingly difficult to control as they develop resistance to the drugs used against them.

“Not enough of us are thinking about the level of burden individual horses have in terms of giving them worm treatments. When we treat horses with viral disease we don’t usually treat the whole group. And we don’t do that with antibiotics.” So why not just deworm the horses that need it?

In the spring and summer, fecal egg counts can be used to identify which horses to treat. But encysted worms in the gut wall in winter cannot be detected with fecal egg counts. So we also need to detect horses with high larval counts.

Prof Matthews’ team have been working to develop a blood test to measure the antibody response to proteins released by these encysted stages within the gut wall.

Detecting resistance is also vital. The research team at Edinburgh has just received funding to update and refine the fecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) that is used to detect resistance to anthelmintics. Hopefully this will lead to better thresholds for resistance levels to individual drugs.

They are looking for studs with large numbers of young horses to help in the research. The project will involve a questionnaire, treatment with ivermectin and a FECRT, which will be provided free of charge.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding Seminar

A panel of top equine researchers and veterinarians covered a range of subjects at the Thoroughbred Racing and Breeders Seminar. The event, now in its ninth year, was supported by the Horserace Betting Levy Board, Intervet Schering Plough Animal Health and cheltenham Racecourse.

The latest research on a variety of topics was presented.

More details...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Immunodeficiency/anaemia in a Dales pony.

Fell ponies are not the only breed to be affected with an immunodeficiency / anaemia syndrome.
Now a similar condition has been reported in a Dales pony

The report’s authors, based at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket and the Liverpool Vet School, describe a female Dales pony foal with marked anaemia, diarrhoea and pneumonia, that failed to respond to treatment. The foal was euthanased at nearly 6 weeks of age. Post mortem signs were typical of Fell pony syndrome.

The scientists, who are already studying Fell pony syndrome, are now widening their scope to pay close attention to the Dales pony as well.

They suggest that, although there are other causes of anaemia in foals, the anaemia/immunodeficiency syndrome should be considered in any young foal with marked anaemia (PCV < 20%) and relevant clinical signs.

They urge owners, breeders and veterinarians dealing with Dales ponies to be aware of the disease, and ask that any suspect cases be referred to the research team at the Animal Health Trust or the Liverpool University Veterinary School.

More details...