SAA Detects Early Inflammation in Horses Traveling by Air

Researchers determined that SAA is a more reliable indicator of inflammation than rectal temperature in traveling horses.
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SAA Detects Early Inflammation in Horses Traveling by Air
Elite sport horses that fly from continent to continent are at a particularly high risk of being exposed to infectious disease and contracting one could sideline them indefinitely. | Photo: John Stroud/FEI
Elite sport horses that fly from continent to continent are at a particularly high risk of being exposed to infectious disease—from commingling with other horses as well as the increased stress on their immune systems—and contracting one could sideline them indefinitely. The sooner veterinarians can identify and begin treating a sick horse, the better for all involved.

So Marc Oertly, DVM, of the Swiss Institute of Equine Medicine, in Berne, set out to determine whether serum amyloid A (SAA) concentrations could suggest inflammation sooner than a rectal thermometer in traveling horses. He presented his results at the 2017 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Nov. 17-21 in San Antonio, Texas.

Serum amyloid A is a protein present in undetectable to low levels in healthy horses. In response to inflammation, the liver releases SAA into the bloodstream, causing levels to rise 1,000-fold or more. Veterinarians can measure these levels to detect infection and monitor treatment response.

In a study funded by StableLab, a company that developed a stall-side blood test to measure SAA in horses, Oertly evaluated the optimum time point for measuring SAA after horses travel. He followed 121 high-level Warmblood show jumpers, ranging in age from 8 to 17, along three stops of the Longines Global Champions Tour

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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