Study: Schmallenberg Virus Might Infect Horses

Ten horses in Iran are the first horses worldwide to test positive for antibodies against Schmallenberg virus, which is known to infect ruminants in some parts of Europe.
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Schmallenberg Virus
None of the antibody-positive horses showed clinical signs of disease. Rasehk said it’s possible that the disease had run its course by the time the horses were tested and the antibodies were still present in the system, or it’s feasible that horses just don’t develop clinical disease despite infection. | Photo: iStock

A recently discovered virus known to infect ruminants in parts of Europe might infect horses, as well: Researchers have just identified antibodies to the Schmallenberg virus, transmitted by flying insects, in 10 Iranian horses.

They are the first horses worldwide to test positive for these antibodies, the scientists said.

In screening for antibodies in cattle, sheep, and goats, as well as in horses, the researchers discovered—unexpectedly—that members of the equine species tested positive along with the other species, said Mehdi Rasekh, DVM, DVSc, an assistant professor of large animal internal medicine in at the University of Zabol Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, in Iran

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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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