Studying Emerging Diseases in the Equine Industry

Dr. Scott Weese studies microbial populations in the horses’ digestive tracts, infection sources and carriers, and more.
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Horse health is one of the most important issues in the equine industry. Just like humans, horses have their own health concerns, including emerging infectious diseases.

Horses by nature are social creatures, and many travel extensively—locally, nationally, or internationally to compete or for sales purposes. This means the risk of spreading infection has never been more prevalent. Scientists have developed vaccines and treatments for various infections, but the pathogens involved have adapted, becoming more drug-resistant and infectious.

To combat this situation, researchers such as Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, from the University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College, are investigating known and emerging infectious diseases. Weese studies the effects and changes in microbial populations in the horses’ digestive tracts, sources and carriers of infections, and investigates methods to control transmission of pathogens. In particular, he focuses on bacterial changes that can cause diarrhea or colic (including Clostridium difficile, a spore-forming bacterium that can cause diarrhea and inflammation of the colon) and various other important causes of disease such as equine influenza virus and equine herpesvirus.

Weese’s research contributes to understanding how these pathogens operate and spread, and their effects. This provides vital information for learning how to treat infected horses

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