Equine Grass Sickness: What Goes On in Affected Horses’ Guts?

Researchers found that horses with EGS had significantly reduced bacterial diversity compared to their healthy counterparts.
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equine grass sickness
Researchers found that horses with EGS had significantly reduced bacterial diversity compared to their healthy counterparts. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Photo: R. Scott Pirie

The mysteries surrounding equine grass sickness (EGS) are becoming less riddling. New investigations using DNA-analysis technology are giving veterinarians a peek at what’s going on in affected horses’ guts. This research isn’t only helping researchers better understand the disease; it’s also giving hope for the development of a simple, noninvasive diagnostic test.

“There is currently no way to predict when or which horse will develop EGS, and diagnosis is only possible by taking a biopsy of the gut wall, which involves invasive surgery and is costly for the horse owner,” said Joy Leng, PhD, MSc, BSc, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine, in Guildford, U.K.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need for a quick, noninvasive diagnostic test,” she said

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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