Help us solve the 100 year old grass sickness puzzle!
Equine Grass Sickness (EGS) is a devastating disease affecting horses and ponies, which remains a mystery after 100 years of research. There is no treatment or cure, and over 80% of cases are fatal. Some horses develop a milder chronic form of the disease, and a number of these survive with intensive nursing, and may return to a full working life.
A pioneering new project aims to make a breakthrough in the disease. The EGS Fellowship is a joint project between the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and its parent organisation, The Moredun Foundation, who are internationally renowned experts in preventing infectious diseases in animals.
The areas the team are exploring include:
- The microbiome of the horse and its environment.
- Environmental factors – water, soil, pasture and weather
- In vitro systems
A vital part of this project is the development of a nationwide EGS Biobank and Case Database. Together these will provide open access to grass sickness samples for scientists to examine the disease, the lack of which has hindered research to date. The help of The British Horse Society and World Horse Welfare have been hugely important in allowing this project to take place.
Interesting new shoots already coming from the project involve a study looking at weather data, with the aim of creating a predictive model to allow owners to look up the ‘grass sickness forecast’ in their area.
Another project seeks to develop mini horse guts to help us test potential causal agents within a laboratory setting. This exciting work is in collaboration with the Royal (Dick Vet), with important implications for equine welfare beyond grass sickness, for instance for research into gastric ulcers.
The EGS Fellowship Team are working in collaboration with vets, horse owners and scientists across the UK to encourage the donation of samples and tissue from grass sickness cases and gather owner observations of the events leading up to the case.
Please join in the programme of events planned for Blair International Horse Trials to find out more about this complex disease, and the important role everyone has to play in tackling the disease.
The Moredun Foundation Equine Grass Sickness Fund is dedicated to finding the cause, a means of prevention, and improving the treatment of chronic cases.
For more information, make a donation, or report a case please visit www.grasssickness.org.uk