The Horse

FEB 2019

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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TheHorse.com | The Horse February 2019 9 Refining the Horse Grimace Scale Researchers know that horses can show facial expressions indicative of pain, and they've used those expressions to create the horse grimace scale (HGS). What hasn't been clear, however, is which expressions are the most reliable indicators of pain. So Emanuela Dalla Costa, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ECAWBM, of the Università degli Studi di Milano Department of Veterinary Medicine, in Milan, Italy, and colleagues worked to fill those knowledge gaps. The team refined their original HGS research (TheHorse.com/148489) by running statistical analyses on data from 39 horses undergoing routine castration. They reviewed 126 photographs of the horses' facial expres- sions before and after surgery and scored them according to the HGS. Then, they ran a subset of those images through more intense analyses to determine which aspects of facial expressions seemed most associated with pain. The most reliable indicators were: ■ Stiffly backward ears; ■ Orbital tightening (squinting); ■ Tension above the eye area; and ■ Prominently strained chewing muscles. Strained mouths and nostrils were less consistently linked to pain, she said. They also identified criteria to help clearly distinguish a horse in pain from a horse that's not in pain. This could help veterinarians and staff with observations in clinics and also lead to software development that would alert caretakers about horses passing a certain pain threshold, Dalla Costa said. "The HGS consists of six facial action units (FAU, different parts of the face that change when the horse is in pain)," she said. "This study gives us an idea of the importance of these parts of the face. We now have the weights (relative value) of each FAU, and we know, for example, that backward ears could be more indicative of pain than strained nostrils." Their current study is limited to horses dealing with castration pain, Dalla Costa said. It's possible that other pain sources might lead to different facial expressions, so "in future studies, we should focus on other common painful diseases, such as laminitis or colic," she said. Read more at TheHorse.com/163260. —Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA ISTOCK.COM Preventing R. equi Pneumonia in Foals Rhodococcus equi is one of the most common causes of pneumonia in foals 1-6 months of age. R. equi pneumonia can cause significant economic loss- es, due to treatment expenses and foal death, and it can be difficult or impossible to prevent or to detect early. Researchers have made prog- ress in developing a vaccine to protect foals. Morris Animal Foundation- funded research at Texas A&M Univer- sity (led by Noah Cohen, VMD, MPH, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM) and Harvard Medical School revealed that vaccinating pregnant mares with a novel vaccine at three and six weeks before foaling protected their newborns against R. equi pneumonia. Antibodies against R. equi pneumonia transferred to the foal via the mare's colostrum (first milk). The antibodies proved to be protective: When research- ers challenged the foals with R. equi, most of the ones born to vaccinated mares did not develop pneumonia. In a follow-up study, the team administered plasma with high levels of R. equi antibodies to five foals and gave standard plasma to four. Foals receiving the hyperimmune plasma didn't develop pneumonia after an R. equi challenge. These studies provide promis- ing resources to researchers and veterinarians working to control and ultimately prevent R. equi pneumonia in foals. Read more at TheHorse. com/164670. —Maria Paz Zuñiga Barrera, DVM, Msc(c), Dipl. Equine Production, WEVA Board Member Bisphosphonates to Treat Signs of NSH A rare disfiguring equine bone disease—nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, or NSH—causes bones, especially flat ones such as those in the skull, to lose calcium and become weaker, more flexible, and larger. Luca Lacitignola, DVM, PhD, of the Univer- sità degli Studi di Bari "Aldo Moro," in Italy, and colleagues tested whether bisphosphonates, which work to rebuild bone density, could counteract NSH's effects. They treated an affected pony— who was weak, lame, and anorexic and had difficulty breathing— with a single dose of tiludronate and prescribed a balanced diet. A month later X rays showed no obvious bony changes, but Lacitignola said the pony had put on weight and was breathing well, and his lameness had improved. For additional news items, see TheHorse.com/News Modified Compression Wrap Techniques for Horses Veterinarians have modified lower-limb compression bandages—used to help manage problems ranging from wounds to cellulitis—in a variety of ways to maintain better pressure. But are those techniques more ef- fective? Warren Beard, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, of Kansas State University, in Manhattan, et al. examined how six bandaging techniques—double-layer, traditional distal limb compression, inner sanctum (rolled gauze taped into the indentations between the splint bones and flexor tendons) with distal limb compression, carpal (knee) compression, adhesive elastic carpal (used to protect incisions), and tarsal (hock) compression— influence sub-bandage pressure. They concluded that most modifications did not appear to improve bandage efficacy, but "carpal elastic bandages maintain sub-bandage pressures during (walking) and may be more ap- propriate for long-term bandaging in ambulating horses." weva The refined scale could help vets and owners alike better recognize pain expressions.

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