Huge thanks to everyone who came out last night to attend The Coughing Horse evening. Thanks also to Emma and Meredith from Boehringer Ingeheim who generously sponsored the evening, we hope you all enjoyed it and found it useful.
In summary of the evenings discussions and talks, we heard that there are a wide variety of diseases that present as a coughing horse. Most commonly we would expect a cough to arise from Equine Asthma Syndrome (EAS)- which can present with both summer and winter trigger factors. This syndrome encompasses the old terminology for COPD, RAO and SPAOPD, and is clearer as the disease is akin to human form of asthma rather than the human form of COPD.
Young in training race horses or other performance horses may experience a similar disease presentation in the way of inflammatory airway disease (IAD). Unlike EAS, IAD is generally a post-viral persistent airway inflammation that resolves completely following appropriate anti-inflammatory treatment. Management of EAS and support of the respiratory system with forage type and supplements was discussed, with the take home message being that supplements tend to have a role in supporting the health if the respiratory system; but when clinical signs appear traditional treatment is required to resolve the clinical disease. Once under control supplements may well help to promote the best function of the respiratory tract that is possible in a given individual. As with all things, supplements have a place, but are unlikely to fix clinical disease once established.
Contagious, infectious diseases were also discussed, such as 'flu, herpes, bacterial diseases such as Streptococcus zooepidemicus and Streptococcus equi equi, the bacteria responsible for strangles. Vaccination strategies were high on the agenda naturally and while we addressed questions regarding specific vaccination brands and the effectiveness; the take home message here is that it is more important that your horse is vaccinated against 'flu than worrying about the specific vaccination brand being used. Questions were also asked about adverse reactions following vaccination and we were keen to reinforce realistic expectations of the effect of vaccination rather than term all reactions a true adverse event. It is important that any negative impact on the horse following vaccination is reported to us and we report this to the manufacturers for accurate data to be created.
The second half of the evening provoked much discussion using two case based presentations. The first case resolved around a dressage horse that developed shipping fever after travelling home from competition. Discussion about the appropriate and necessary use of diagnostic testing in its role to guide treatment, formulate differential diagnoses and an accurate prognosis on a given case was important. The need to vigilance in monitoring these horses at home after travel was emphasised and preventative measures set out.
The final case was based around a typical presentation of contagious disease within a yard, which after testing was diagnosed as strangles. The case was used to highlight to rationale in prescribing of antibiotics in bacterial disease - the why's and when's and most importantly perhaps, then when nots. We also had a good discussion about biosecurity and spread of infectious disease - strangles and 'flu, as well as how both diseases are diagnosed and treated. Timings for testing in 'flu in particular was discussed and highlighted, which explained why we sometimes have negative results in a positive case. Additionally, we highlighted some of the complications, strengths and weaknesses around testing for strangles both when trying to confirm disease in the first instance; and when trying to ascertain freedom from disease following infection or pre-movement. The take home message here was that swabbing for strangles is very unlikely to yield a positive result, even when disease is present, so should not be used for the most part. Blood sampling has its place, but has its own drawbacks and is useful in specific circumstances only. The gold standard for identifying carriers still remains guttural pouch endoscopy.
We had some great feedback following the evening and were thrilled to see so many friendly faces. Should you have any feedback from this evening or ideas for future events, we'd love to hear them as the best events are those that people really want to attend! Keep an eye out on our events page for upcoming dates for your diary.