Equine asthma in horses can present in a variety of ways depending on how severely the horse is affected. Horses with severe asthma may cough and have increased heart and respiratory rates even when at rest, but horses with mild asthma are harder to detect; they may simply just not do well when asked for physical exertion, reports The Horse.
Veterinarians and owners may be underestimating the number of horses affected by asthma. To diagnose asthma, a physical exam and a bronchoalveolar lavage (also called a lung wash) must take place. The lung wash is typically done in an equine hospital and can be costly to perform.
A stall-side blood test that could identify equine asthma using biomarkers could be of great help in diagnosing horses suffering from asthma. Biomarkers indicate disease, infection or exposure to something in the environment. Specific biomarkers must be used to determine horses that both have and don't have equine asthma.
To determine if a stall-side blood test would work, Dr. Jean-Pierre Lavoie, of the Equine Asthma Research Laboratory at the University of Montreal and colleagues at the Equine Hospital at the University of Montreal used 14 horses that were diagnosed with asthma because of a lung-wash analysis and clinical presentation. The scientists also used nine healthy horses and 10 horses that had other issues unrelated to the respiratory system.
The researchers determined that when the test used three biomarkers specific to equine asthma, the test could correctly identify all horses without the disease. However, there was a good chance that horses with asthma were still going undetected using this test. Lavoie concluded that though not perfect, the stall-side test can be used as a diagnostic aid. He calls for additional research to improve the test's sensitivity.
Read the full article here.
Read more at The Horse.
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