Airway disease in racehorses

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University of Guelph researchers examined lung tissue from 95 racehorses that had actively raced or trained before their deaths and found that a majority had inflammatory airway disease.

Racehorses need to breathe well to run their best, but inflammatory airway disease (IAD) can rob them of their stamina. New research in the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) at the University of Guelph shows that IAD is much more common than previously thought.

“We looked microscopically at the lung tissue of horses that died during or just after races and quantified the inflammatory cells within their airways,” professor Luis Arroyo with the OVC department of clinical studies said. “We expected to find that the majority of the animals would have normal airways, with only a small number actually affected with the disease, but that was not the case.”

Along with graduate student Federika ter Woort and pathobiology professor Jeff Caswell, Arroyo discovered that most of the horses had some degree of IAD, with mild to severe airway changes.

Previous research suggested that the disease occurs in up to half of equine athletes, the announcement said.

“The disease was known to be common in racehorses, but not as widespread as this study reveals,” Caswell said. “The findings suggest that IAD does not result from unique exposure of an affected horse to the stimulus that causes the disease, but, rather, the research suggests that all racehorses may be exposed, with inflammation of the airways experienced by many.”

With results published in the American Journal of Veterinary Research, the study examined lung tissue from 95 deceased racehorses, including thoroughbreds, standardbreds and quarterhorses that had actively raced or trained before their deaths.

This was the first study to assess inflammation on a tissue level and the first to discover airway inflammation in horses not specifically selected for poor performance.

“None of the deceased horses showed obvious signs of airway inflammation in their final three races,” Arroyo said. “The research shows that inflammation is always prevalent in racehorses, even those that may or may not have respiratory signs.”

Unlike equine asthma in older horses, IAD causes no observable symptoms at rest — only during exercise. It most readily shows itself in poor race times, Caswell explained.

Possible causes of IAD include recurrent pulmonary stress, deep inhalation of dust, atmospheric pollutants and persistent respiratory viral infections. Young horses have higher risk of exposure to these factors because of frequent transport, intense exercise and increased time spent in stables, OVC said.

Little is known about how IAD changes an affected horse’s lungs, Arroyo added.

“At this stage, the findings are mainly relevant to understanding the nature of the disease and how it develops. Until now, there was no knowledge about a potential correlation between the classification of the inflammatory cells in the airways and the lung tissues.”

The Ontario Racing Commission requires a mandatory autopsy when a horse dies in or soon after a race. That means experts know a lot about what causes racehorses to die. Since IAD is not fatal, it had not been closely examined until now, Arroyo said. read more

 

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New cow disease: Mycoplasma bovis

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Mycoplasma bovis is on many farmers’ minds and has the potential to hit dairy and beef sectors in the pocket, but what actually is this disease?

What we know

  • This is the first time the disease has been found in New Zealand.
  • The disease causes mastitis, pneumonia, abortions and lameness, and can result in the deaths of cows and calves.
  • The disease can be hard to detect and treat because it has special characteristics including: The lack of a cell wall so that certain widely-used antibiotics are not effective; an ability to hide away from the immune system so that infections are difficult for cows to fight; the ability to create conditions that allow evasion from antibiotic treatment (eg within large abscesses).
  • Not all infected cows get sick or show signs of the disease, making it hard to detect. Some shed the disease without becoming ill, allowing for transmission between farms if these cows are moved.
  • It is mainly spread through ‘nose to nose’ contact between cattle through mucus and bodily fluids, and by direct contact with between infected animals and equipment which has been used on infected animals.
  • Mycoplasma bovis does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk. There is no concern about consuming milk and milk products.
  • MPI said all products from infected cows are fine for human consumption. This includes dairy and dairy products once pasteurised and all meat products.
  • While some of the conditions can be treated, affected cattle will always be carriers of the disease.
  • In Australia, the disease is throughout most dairying regions and had devastating impacts on some individual farms, leading to cows and calves being killed.
  • Since the disease arrived in Australia farmers have been using a PCR test, which detects evidence of infection in bulk milk.

Read more…

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