Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ivermectin for foal deworming warning

Ivermectin should not be the drug of choice for controlling Parascaris equorum (large roundworm) in foals a recent study warns.

Dr Eva Osterman-Lind and Dr Dan Cristensson of the National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, Sweden, investigated the occurrence of Parascaris equorum infection on nine stud farms in Sweden and assessed the efficacy of three commonly used dewormers.

They found that ivermectin had very little, or no, effect on the output of ascarid eggs.

“The most striking result from this study was that in five studs out of six, ivermectin failed to suppress the faecal output of P. equorum eggs” Osterman-Lind and Cristensson report in the journal Acta Vet Scandinavica. “Ivermectin resistance is now a widespread problem in Swedish stud farms.”


How common are wobblers?

Cervical vertebral stenotic myelopathy (CVSM) is an important disease of Thoroughbred horses in which compression of the spinal cord in the neck leads to incoordinated gait. Affected horses are often described as “wobblers”.

But how common is the condition? Researchers at the University of Glasgow studied records from four breeding establishments - three European Thoroughbred stud farms (936 foals) and one farm in USA (353 foals) - over a 7 year period.

During that time there were 13 cases of Type 1 CVSM, (dynamic stenosis); 5 horses with Type 2 CVSM (static stenosis) and 5 horses in which the Type could not be determined. Overall, 1.3% of the animals were found to be affected.

The average age at which signs of the condition became apparent differed. Horses affected with dynamic stenosis were noticed at a younger age than were those with static stenosis. Type 1 (dynamic stenosis) was diagnosed typically in yearlings (Mean 433days old - about 1y 2 months.) Horses affected with the stenotic compression were diagnosed later - (mean 1188d -about 3years 3 months)

The researchers also found that male horses were significantly more likely to be affected (17 male to 6 female), which agreed with previous studies.

“CVSM is an important disease of Thoroughbred horses and leads to wastage in the thoroughbred industry through the inability to race and the loss of affected horses” the report's authors conclude.

They suggest that “further investigations of the prevalence of CVSM in populations of thoroughbreds and other breeds and determination of risk factors for the disease are warranted.”

More details...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Genetic Test for ‘Speed Gene’ in Thoroughbred Horses

Researchers have identified a gene that can predict the type of work that is most appropriate for an individual Thoroughbred racehorse.

The work, led by Dr Emmeline Hill at University College Dublin, was published in the Public Library of Science Journal, PLoS ONE.

The MSTN gene is responsible for muscle mass development. At a specific point in the gene, the code can contain either the letter C or the letter T. As each individual has two copies of the gene—one inherited from the dam, one from the sire—there are three possible combinations of the letters: C:C, C:T or T:T.

The researchers found that C:C horses were suited to fast, short-distance races; C:T horses competed favorably in middle-distance races; and T:T horses had greater stamina.

The findings were independently validated in a re-sampled group of 62 unrelated elite (Group and Listed race winners) Thoroughbreds and in another group of 37 elite racehorses.

Following the success of the research program, Dr Hill and Mr Jim Bolger, the renowned Irish racehorse trainer and breeder, co-founded a company, Equinome, in 2009 to commercialize the test.

Dr Hill says “Using the Equinome Speed Gene test, a world first in equine genetics, it will now be possible to definitively know a horse’s genetic type within weeks of a sample being taken, thus reducing much of the uncertainty that has been typically involved in selection, training and breeding decisions.”

“Racehorse owners and trainers around the world will be able to identify if a horse is ideally suited to racing over short, middle or middle-to-long distances. With this information, they can then optimize their purchasing and training decisions and better target suitable races for their horses. Breeders, stallion managers and bloodstock agents will also be able to use the test to make more precise selection and breeding decisions to maximize the genetic potential and commercial value of their horses.”

Dr Hill will formally launch Equinome and the Equinome Speed Gene test at 2pm on January 29th at the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association Expo 2010 in a seminar entitled Cracking the code: The Speed Gene revealed.


For more information about Equinome

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Oxytocin promotes placental expulsion

Retention of the fetal membranes is a common post-foaling complication. It is of particular concern in heavy draft breeds, which seem especially likely to develop laminitis if expulsion of the membranes is delayed.

A Japanese study, led by Dr Mitsuo Ishii, found that hourly injections of oxytocin after foaling was an effective way of inducing placental expulsion.

"I recommend that for heavy draft mares, 50iu of oxytocin should be administered from one
hour after foaling and continued at one hour intervals until expulsion of the placenta" Dr Ishii says. " We usually don't remove the placenta manually until 8 hours after foaling."

See more details at

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sarcoid treatment breakthrough

The battle against sarcoids is forging ahead. Researchers in Scotland have succeeded in killing equine sarcoid cells using a technique known as gene silencing. They are now hoping to obtain funding for clinical trials using the new technique, which could result in a more effective, non-toxic treatment for sarcoids.

Sarcoids are the most common type of tumour found in horses. They are caused by infection with the Bovine Papillomavirus (BPV). The response to treatment is variable, and if treatment fails the sarcoids will often come back with a vengeance.

Recent research, funded by The Horse Trust, offers a potential ray of hope for owners of horses affected by sarcoids. The work was published in the journal Virus Research.

The research, led by Professor Lubna Nasir of the University of Glasgow, found that by inhibiting the activity of a particular viral protein within sarcoid cells, the amount of viral DNA in the cells reduced. This led to a reduction in the growth of the sarcoid cells and caused the cell to die by “Programmed cell-death” (PCD). The researchers believe that PCD occurs because the sarcoid cells become reliant on the virus.

"This could potentially be a major breakthrough in the treatment of sarcoids," said Professor Lubna Nasir. "We are now seeking funding to use this technique in clinical trials on horses that have sarcoids."

"One of the challenges with gene silencing is administering it within clinical setting - as you need to get molecules into every cell. As sarcoids are on the surface of a horse, we think administration should be relatively easy - potentially by injecting or applying a cream to the sarcoid," said Professor Nasir. "If we are able to successfully develop this technique it would be a non-toxic and easy to administer treatment for horses affected by this distressing condition."

See for more details.