Morris Animal Foundation Funds Equine Arteritis Virus Study

The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) announced Feb. 2 that it would fund $10,800 for researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center to conduct a genome-wide association study of horses for susceptibility to equine arteritis virus (EAV). EAV is the causative agent of equine viral arteritis (EVA), which is characterized by upper respiratory tract disease in adult horses,
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The Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) announced Feb. 2 that it would fund $10,800 for researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center to conduct a genome-wide association study of horses for susceptibility to equine arteritis virus (EAV).

EAV is the causative agent of equine viral arteritis (EVA), which is characterized by upper respiratory tract disease in adult horses, abortion in broodmares, and pneumonia in young foals. Stallions can become long-term carriers of the virus and transmit it during breeding. Chronically infected stallions can transmit the virus to susceptible mares through natural breeding as well as embryo transfer. EVA appears to be on the rise because horses are increasingly transported nationally and internationally for breeding and competition, according to Udeni Balasuriya, BVSc, PhD, associate professor of virology at the Gluck Center.

Results of previous studies in Balasuriya’s laboratory revealed that an in vitro (in the lab) test could be used to predict which horses are highly susceptible to EAV infection. The work in connection with the Morris Animal Foundation Grant entails testing susceptible and resistant horses with more than 54,000 genetic markers identified during the sequencing of the horse genome. The distribution of markers for the two groups will be compared, and those that are unique to one group will be used to uncover genes that play a role in viral infection or immune response.

Others involved in the study include Ernie Bailey, PhD, immunogenetics researcher and professor at the Gluck Center; Peter Timoney, MVB, PhD, FRCVS, Frederick Van Lennep Chair in Equine Veterinary Science at the Gluck Center; and Yun Young Go, a PhD candidate at the Gluck Center. The study is part of Go’s ongoing PhD program research

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