The equine parasitology group at the University of Kentucky (UK) Gluck Equine Research Center has launched a new website to increase awareness of two unique horse herds maintained at the university for more than 40 years.
The website features the history of these equine parasitology research herds that have resided at UK since the 1970s. Martin Nielsen, PhD, associate professor and Schlaikjer Professor of Equine Infectious Disease at the Gluck Center, manages the site content.
“We felt it was time to tell this unique story,” Nielsen said. “My colleague, Dr. Eugene T. Lyons (PhD), established these herds back when drug-resistant parasites were not the common finding. Dr. Lyons knew how these herds would become extremely valuable down the road. What an incredible foresight.”
Visitors to the website—horseparasites.ca.uky.edu—can find videos and a complete list of peer-reviewed articles published to report four decades of research conducted using these herds, including:
- The epidemiology of important equine parasites and the impact of age, seasonality, and immunity on parasite burdens;
- Documentation of how parasites responded to traditional deworming schedules by becoming multi-drug resistant;
- A chronicle of how drug resistance does not disappear once it has developed, regardless of whether are dewormed;
- Development of new diagnostic methods for detection of important equine parasites, including a blood test for bloodworms, and ultrasound method for ascarids, and a smartphone-based automated egg counting system;
- Evaluation of novel deworming programs, such as various forms of combination deworming; and
- Molecular studies of mechanisms behind drug resistance.
Nielsen also created the #HistoricHerds hashtag on Twitter to help disseminate information about these horses.
In addition to their value as a research resource, Nielsen introduces numerous students at the undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary levels to the historic herds each year. Handling these horses is a popular and useful weekly activity for these students.
“Our department has been privileged to have funding sources to sustain these herds for 40 years,” Nielsen said. “However, state and federal funding sources are diminishing year by year and we are seeking philanthropic support to sustain these unique resources for the future. Dr. Lyons started this incredible journey, and my mission is to make sure that it continues. We need this research now more than ever.”
To support future parasitology research at UK, visit uky.networkforgood.com/causes/8423-let-the-germs-get-the-worms-fund.
Jenny Evans, MFA, is the senior veterinary science marketing and promotion specialist at the UK Gluck Equine Research Center.
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