Are Coughing and Nasal Discharge Early Indicators of Heaves?

Researchers concluded that mild but persistent respiratory signs, such as coughing and nasal discharge, can indicate an increased risk of developing heaves.

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Horse owners might dismiss mild coughing or nasal discharge in their horses, but could these two inflammatory airway disease (IAD) signs be linked to a more serious condition? Recent research results from the University of Berne's Swiss Institute of Equine Medicine indicate that, yes, these signs could be early indicators of recurrent airway obstruction (RAO, or heaves) in horses.

For this particular study, the researchers employed a scoring guide known as the "horse owner-assessed respiratory signs index" (or HOARSI) to assess clinical signs of IAD and RAO.

“The HOARSI is primarily a research instrument for epidemiological (patterns of disease) and genetic studies rather than a diagnostic tool,” reported Simone Bosshard, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow and lead researcher of the study.

Aside from evaluating IAD signs, the researchers also set out to examine the influence of age, sex, coat color, as well as environmental factors associated with RAO development

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Written by:

Casie Bazay is a freelance and young adult writer, as well as a certified equine acupressure practitioner. She also hosts a blog, The Naturally Healthy Horse. Once an avid barrel racer, she now enjoys giving back to the horses who have given her so much.

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