Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tick-borne disease in Danish horses

Tick-borne infections are common in Danish horses. A survey published in Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica showed that many Danish horses carry antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato (the group of Borrelia species known to cause Lyme disease) and Anaplasma phagocytophilium (the cause of equine granulocytic anaplasmosis).

The study, overseen by Dr Anders M Bojesen of the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark aimed to evaluate the seroprevalence of B. burgdorferi s. l. and A. phagocytophilium in Danish horses.

Overall, 29.0% horses were seropositive for B. burgdorferi s. l. and 22.3% were seropositive for A. phagocytophilium. This was a higher proportion than had been found in previous studies in neighbouring countries.

There was no significant correlation between risk factors investigated, including breed, gender, age, use and housing and the occurrence of antibodies against B. burgdorferi s. l.

However the researchers did find that older horses were more likely to have been infected with A. phagocytophilium. Compared with horses aged between 1-4 years old, those aged 11-20 years were 2.3 times more likely to be seropositive for A. phagocytophilium, and horses over 21 years old were 3.3 times more likely to be seropositive.

Horses seropositive for B. burgdorferi s. l. were likely to be seropositive for A. phagocytophilium and vice versa.

The researchers conclude “these findings warrant further attention to these infections in horses particularly with regard to improved means for detection of active infections, which may contribute to a better understanding of these diseases and their impact on horse behaviour and welfare.”

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