Thursday, June 28, 2018

Does lavender aromatherapy reduce stress?

Horses can find transportation stressful, and risk injuring themselves if they become restless or agitated during the journey. 

Could aromatherapy help calm horses in potentially stressful situations? 

Kylie Heitman and colleagues in the Department of Science, Albion College, Albion, MI looked to see if aromatherapy with lavender had a beneficial effect on stress in transported horses.

Eight horses were chosen for the study. Each undertook a 15 minute trailer ride, with or without lavender aromatherapy. 

To assess the horses’ stress levels, the research team recorded the horses’ heart rates and measured cortisol in blood samples, before, immediately after the trailer ride and after a recovery period (50 minutes after completing the ride.)

During the ride, horses were exposed to either Lavender aromatherapy (LA) or water (control). Each horse completed the ride twice on separate occasions, with either LA or water, and so acted as its own control.

As expected, horses showed an increase in heart rate and cortisol levels in response to the trailer ride.
Lavender aromatherapy did not reduce heart rate in transported horses. However, the researchers did find that trailered horses had significantly lower blood cortisol levels when transported with lavender aromatherapy compared with the water control.

They conclude “Overall, our results show that cortisol levels were suppressed in stressed horses that received lavender aromatherapy. These conclusions partially support the original hypothesis that lavender aromatherapy has positive effects on horses during a stressful situation. Cortisol was the only parameter that was lowered in horses that were subjected to lavender aromatherapy during a stressor.

They suggest that follow-up studies should include additional stress biomarkers, different essential oils, and should examine how aromatherapy can affect baseline values without a stressor.

For more details, see: 

The Use of Lavender Aromatherapy to Relieve Stress in Trailered Horses
Kylie Heitman, Bradley Rabquer, Eric Heitman, Craig Streu, Paul Anderson
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2018) 63, p8

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Wobbler syndrome webinar

Wobbler Syndrome, (Cervical vertebral malformation (CVM)) is a common cause of ataxia in horses. The condition typically affects young, light breed horses and is more common in males than females.

In a series of lectures, now available online, the pathogenesis, clinical signs and treatment of CVM are discussed together with challenges and future perspectives on diagnosis and assessment.

The presentations are given by international leaders in this field; Steve Reed, Tim Philips, Richard Piercey and Emil Olsen.

Organised by the Beaufort Cottage Educational Trust, the lecture series is supported by the Gerald Leigh Trust in honour of Mr Leigh's passion for the Thoroughbred horse and its health and welfare. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

How long does strangles survive in the environment?

Veterinarians and horse handlers should be aware that Streptococcus equi, the organism responsible for strangles, may survive in the environment for longer than previously thought, according to new research.

The study, by Andy Durham and colleagues, has been reported in the Equine Veterinary Journal.

The researchers inoculated S. equi cultures onto seven surfaces found in veterinary practices or in stables, and took serial samples to see how long the organism remained viable.

The test surfaces included a wet plastic bucket, a dental rasp, inside a naso-gastric tube and a fence post. Samples were taken frequently from each of the inoculated sites and cultured, until it was no longer possible to find the organism. The procedure was carried out in both the summer and winter. Inoculated surfaces were kept out of direct sunlight for the duration of the study.

The researchers found that the bacteria survived longest in wet, humid, and cold conditions, while survival tended to be short in the summer (up to 9 days in wet sites and up to 2 days in dry sites. 

S. equi was recorded for up to 34 days in a wet bucket in the winter. The most vigorous growth was obtained from inside a moist naso-gastric tube, where the organism survived for up to 21 days in the winter.

The report’s authors conclude that S. equi may survive in the environment for far longer than has been reported previously: “Although survival in warm and dry locations was detected for only up to 2 days, in wet and cold indoor conditions S. equi may remain viable for more than 30 days.”

“Although extrapolation to natural infection and transmissibility is difficult, the possibility that similarly prolonged survival could occur following outbreaks of clinical disease should be considered as part of the formulation of control strategies.”

For more details, see:
A study of the environmental survival of Streptococcus equi subspecies equi
A. E. Durham, Y. S. Hall, L. Kulp, C. Underwood
Equine Veterinary Journal (2018)