Researchers address equine disease

Feb 19, 2014
Researchers address equine disease
QUT researcher Dr Melody de Laat is studying the deadly effects of laminitis. She is pictured with Mia.

It is a disease that has taken the life of Black Caviar's brother, the most expensive yearling sold at public auction in Australia, but to the average horse owner laminitis is a killer that often strikes without warning.

Dr Melody de Laat, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, said laminitis - also commonly known as Founder - was a complex and painful condition of the horse's hoof and that it could affect up to 34 per cent of the equine population.

"It is the second most common cause of death in domestic due to euthanasia and one of the most common reasons horse owners seek veterinary advice," Dr de Laat said.

"It strikes fear in the heart of any horse owner because it is difficult to treat and there is no cure."

In a bid to counter the deadly effects of laminitis, QUT is conducting a worldwide study to understand what predisposes horses to repeatedly fall prey to this chronic disease.

"The QUT Laminitis Study is trying to find out how frequently different forms of laminitis recur, because once a horse develops the disease it is at greater risk of re-occurrence," she said.

Dr de Laat said the most widespread form of laminitis was linked to metabolic disease commonly associated with overweight ponies grazing on lush pastures.

But she said all horses were at risk and the condition had affected many champion performance horses at the peak of their career.

"Due to improvements in pasture quality and modern husbandry practices, overfeeding has become common and equine obesity is reaching record levels," she said.

"If we can better understand the risk factors associated with laminitis, we can look at developing new prevention and treatment strategies.

"Our ultimate aim is to make laminitis a manageable disease and improve horse welfare."

Dr de Laat said QUT researchers were seeking the support of veterinarians and horse owners who could help by enrolling animals that are affected by laminitis in the study.

"We are looking for detailed information on cases so that we can try to determine what causes laminitis. We will then follow the horse for two years to see if the disease re-occurs."

"Laminitis is a distressing and potentially crippling disease which affects the sensitive lamellar tissues within the hooves of the horse."

"Signs a horse has laminitis can vary, although in many cases the disease is well under way by the time it is noticed as there often aren't visible signs of damage to the hoof.

"While we now know what causes , there are differing theories on how the damage occurs, which makes effective treatment difficult. A big concern is that all breeds and ages are susceptible, and when a horse gets it, all that vets can do is treat it and hope it gets better."

Explore further: New diagnostic protocols for wasting disease in horses

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Humans aren't the only ones with obesity problems

Apr 24, 2007

Horses are inheritably couch potatoes. An overeating, slothful horse leads to an obese horse. Unlike humans, however, horse owners often don’t see the dangers of an obese horse. Caretakers may see no harm ...

Tests set for experimental drug for laminitis

Nov 16, 2012

(Phys.org)—Veterinarians at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine have announced plans to conduct the first clinical trial of an experimental drug that has shown promise in ...

Transforming the diagnosis of equine colic

Dec 12, 2012

Colic is the number one killer of horses. But one of the difficulties faced by vets is differentiating between a mild case and a potentially life threatening case that is in its early stages.

New diagnostic protocols for wasting disease in horses

Dec 05, 2013

Equine pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID) can be detected earlier and more reliably with a new set of guidelines developed by the Equine Endocrinology Group (EEG), a body of leading veterinarians and researchers ...

Recommended for you

Orchid named after UC Riverside researcher

13 hours ago

One day about eight years ago, Katia Silvera, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, Riverside, and her father were on a field trip in a mountainous area in central Panama when they stumbled ...

In sex-reversed cave insects, females have the penises

15 hours ago

Researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on April 17 have discovered little-known cave insects with rather novel sex lives. The Brazilian insects, which represent four distinct but re ...

Fear of the cuckoo mafia

15 hours ago

If a restaurant owner fails to pay the protection money demanded of him, he can expect his premises to be trashed. Warnings like these are seldom required, however, as fear of the consequences is enough to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...