Hi, I thought I’d introduce myself as I have been meeting some of you this last week. I’m Gabby and going to be with the lovely team at Aldington Equine Vets for a few weeks filling the gap from Adam’s departure. I know he was well liked and will be sorely missed but good luck with your new job on t’other side of the Pennines Adam!
I myself am a Yorkshire lass lured over the Pennines to Liverpool Vet School some years ago now. After an elective in equine medicine at Leahurst Equine Hospital, I worked in a mixed practice in South Yorkshire as a new graduate before specialising in equine work near Manchester.
Recently I have just finished a 4 year PhD in equine respiratory disease back at the University of Liverpool. The PhD has been in Veterinary Epidemiology, which is the study of disease patterns in a population. It has been especially interesting because the research has been in the working horses of Ethiopia. The research was done in response to the high numbers of horses with nasal discharge and coughing that were attending the free veterinary clinics run by the UK charity SPANA. We didn’t have any idea what was causing the illness and there aren’t laboratories in Ethiopia able to test for horse pathogens. We set out to study a cross section of the working horses and to see what antibodies to the common equine respiratory viruses they had. We were mainly looking for influenza, herpesviruses, equine rhinitis viruses, arteritis virus and Streptococcus equi. Another UK charity, the Animal Health Trust very kindly helped train me in laboratory methods to be able to test our 500+ samples from Ethiopia. After analysis of our results, we found only occasional evidence of viral respiratory disease in these horses but it was clear that, like the UK, the bacteria causing strangles disease (Streptococcus equi) was common.
Results from this part of the PhD along with other complementary studies including respiratory endoscopy of ill horses, will help to inform SPANAs treatment protocol for sick horses coming to their clinics. The information can also be used to help provide advice on prevention of spread of this infectious disease for owners attending the free training courses that SPANA also run.
Ethiopia has 9 million working horses, donkeys and mules, compared to the UK which has an equid population of around 1.3 million! The horses are mainly used to pull carts and act as taxis to carry people and goods between towns and markets. It is important that these working horses are healthy as often there is an entire family reliant on income generated by the cart-taxi business. Owners have told us that when their horse is sick, they struggle to pay for food, school fees or medical care.
If you haven’t heard of SPANAs excellent work with these animals around the world then please do have a look at their webpage https://spana.org/ or for some more pictures from Ethiopia check out my short video http://pcwww.liverpool.ac.uk/~glaing/ or the BBC In Pictures article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/in-pictures-24023731 .
Thanks for reading, if you would like to know more then please drop me a line at the practice. Otherwise, I’m looking forward to meeting some of you over the next few weeks!