Fighting equine grass sickness
This year we issued a final call to recruit horse owners across the UK for our ground-breaking EGS vaccine trial, asking all new premises to enrol before September 2015 in order to provide an invaluable contribution to this pioneering research.
EGS is a debilitating disease affecting grazing horses, ponies and donkeys, which is almost always fatal. There is currently no known method for preventing EGS. The EGS vaccine trial, launched in March 2014, has been designed to evaluate whether vaccination against Clostridium botulinum type C could be effective in reducing the risk of EGS, in the same way that vaccines are used successfully to prevent equine tetanus and botulism.
In total, 120 premises and 221 owners are participating in the trial. Results from the study are expected in 2017.
We took part in the largest study ever conducted into Streptococcus equi (S. equi), the bacteria responsible for the development of Strangles. This resulted in us stepping closer to designing an effective vaccine to prevent this devastating disease.
Despite more than 100 years of research, Strangles remains the most frequently diagnosed infection of horses worldwide. Scientists from the AHT, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of St. Andrews joined forces to examine the history and evolution of the disease.
The data gathered enabled us to pinpoint the genes that help the bacteria to persist, spread and thrive in the horse population. In addition, the collection of whole-genome sequences for S. equi offers hope for an effective Strangles vaccine, and also provides a useful model for understanding persistent infection in humans.
This research provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the impact of, and prevent, Strangles in future generations of horses.