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Equine Health Blog

On Thursday, Aprl 23, 2015, The Maryland Department of Agriculture announced that Secretary Joe Bartenfelder has promoted Maryland Department of Agriculture Field Veterinarian Michael Radebaugh, VMD to State Veterinarian, a position that was left vacant after the retirement of Dr. Guy Hohenhaus about a year ago.

“The State Veterinarian is an extremely important and challenging position, responsible for safeguarding animal health and the economic security of our animal industries,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “I am very pleased to appoint Dr. Radebaugh, who has a long and vast array of experiences in the field as well as an obvious dedication to Maryland agriculture.”

Dr. Radebaugh is the fourth out of the last five generations in his family to be working in agriculture. He has been a field veterinarian with MDA on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland since 2011 where he was responsible for all regulatory, emergency and other service operations in the region. He has also served as an advisor on poultry health and poultry regulatory programs, particularly avian influenza. Dr. Radebaugh has more than 41 years experience in the veterinary field, including 34 years as a large animal veterinarian. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Dairy Sciences and earned his VMD at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia.

“I sincerely thank Dr. N. Jo Chapman, assistant chief of Animal Health, who has served as Acting State Veterinarian during the interim,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Dr. Chapman’s willingness to step up to lead the state’s animal health program during a very busy last year is a tribute to her dedication to Maryland agriculture.”

MDA’s Animal Health Program works to prevent and control infectious and contagious diseases in Maryland livestock and poultry with particular emphasis on those diseases that threaten public health, endanger food supplies or threaten the economic security of the animal industries. In addition to a sizeable field staff, the section also has two veterinary diagnostic laboratories, one in Salisbury and one in Frederick.

The Equiery tips its hat to Dr. Radebaugh, who is willing to take on the top vet job in the state on the heels of an EHV-1 outbreak! It’s not like he doesn’t know what he is getting into!

Published in Equine Health

Michael D. Erskine, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, of Mount Airy, Maryland, has been named director of Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) after serving as the interim director since May 2013.

Located in Leesburg, Virginia, the center is a campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Erskine will begin his new position effective April 25.

“Over the last 18 months, I have worked closely with Dr. Erskine and others from the college to conduct a comprehensive review and planning process with the goal of developing a more sustainable business model for the equine medical center,” noted Cyril Clarke, BVSc, MS, PhD. Dipl. ACVCP, dean of the veterinary college. “He has been instrumental in moving forward several high-priority projects that already are making a positive impact on the center’s performance and financial standing. I consider him to be very well-qualified to serve the college in his new position.”

A full-service equine hospital, the center offers advanced specialty care, 24-hour emergency treatment, and diagnostic services for all ages and breeds of horses. Just a short drive from the major stables, courses, and tracks in both Virginia and Maryland, the facility also offers cutting-edge research for the advancement of the equine industry and specialized training for veterinary students.

Erskine most recently practiced with Damascus Equine Associates in Mount Airy, a group of private ambulatory equine practitioners who serve a wide variety of clients and their horses in Maryland and the surrounding area. He has a special interest in sport and pleasure horses.

“He has been a veterinary practice owner for over 25 years and a strong supporter of the EMC as both a referring clinician and a member of the EMC Council and Veterinary Advisory Board,” Clarke added. “His career includes a wide range of distinguished veterinary service, practice management, administration, and service to the veterinary profession.”

Erskine majored in biology as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech from 1981 to 1984 and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the veterinary college in 1988. He is board-certified in equine practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. He also is past president of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and the Maryland Horse Council, as well as chair of the Maryland Veterinary Foundation.

Published in Equine Health

This is an abstract of a paper from Equine Veterinary Journal about magnetic blankets. While it doesn't say conclusively that they are of no benefit, it does show that they do not work a commonly believed, by increasing circulation:

Does a magnetic blanket induce changes in muscular blood flow, skin temperature and muscular tension in horses?

Authors: A. Edner, L.-G. Lindberg, H. Broström, A. Bergh

Reasons for performing study

Static magnetic blankets are often claimed to induce increases in blood flow, reduce muscle tension and tenderness, and be beneficial in both prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries in horses. However, there are no studies that confirm alleged beneficial effects of magnets on muscles of the back in healthy horses.

Objectives

To investigate whether static magnets sewn into a blanket affect back muscle blood flow, skin temperature, mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT) and behaviour in healthy horses.

Study design

Prospective, randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study.

Methods

The following outcome measurements of the back of 10 healthy horses were performed; blood flow by photoplethysmography, skin temperature by use of thermistors in conjunction with digital infrared thermography, and MNTs by algometry. The horses’ behaviour was filmed during the procedure and scored on an ethogram. Measurements were performed repeatedly for a 30 min baseline period. Thereafter a blanket with active, static magnets (900 gauss) or placebo magnets was placed on the horse and measurements were performed for a 60 min treatment period and a 30 min post treatment period. The study procedure was repeated on the consecutive day, when the horse received the alternative treatment.

Results

Blood flow in muscle, skin temperatures, MNTs and behavioural traits did not differ between active and placebo magnetic blankets. Skin temperature increased similarly during both active and placebo blanket treatment.
Conclusions

In healthy horses, magnetic blankets did not induce additional significant effects on muscle blood flow, skin temperature, MNTs and behaviour when compared with nonmagnetic blankets.

Published in Equine Health

According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, a horse that was at the same breeding facility as a Montgomery County horse that was recently diagnosed with the mutant neurotropic form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) has tested positive for EHV-1. This second horse, which is still at the breeding facility, had no symptoms and was diagnosed as the result of lab tests. Both EHV-1 positive horses are under care by private veterinarians and are in strict isolation, according to protocol.

The Montgomery County horse had been at the breeding facility for more than two weeks before returning home on Monday. While at the breeding facility and during her first day home, she exhibited no signs of illness. On Tuesday, the horse began showing mild respiratory and neurological signs and was seen by a private veterinarian, who reported the suspected neurological illness to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), as is required by law. Laboratory tests conducted by MDA confirmed the diagnosis. Following a Disease Investigation Protocol, MDA tested horses that were in close contact with the sick horse at the breeding facility. That investigation discovered the second positive horse.

All horses that were exposed to the two positive horses are currently free of symptoms and are being monitored daily. All appear healthy. Both farms will remain under quarantine to ensure the virus is contained. As of today, MDA believes the virus is contained to these two farms and is not aware of any other EHV-1 cases in the state.

MDA’s Animal Health Program continues to monitor the situation closely. Owners should contact their private veterinarians to arrange for EVH testing if a horse exhibits significant temperature elevations or neurologic signs. Veterinarians are required to report equine neurologic syndrome to MDA.

Published in Equine Health

The USDA’s National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) will launch Equine 2015, its third national study of the U.S. equine industry, in May. NAHMS conducted previous equine studies in 1998 and 2005.

A NAHMS stakeholder announcement indicated the Equine 2015 is designed to provide participants, industry, and animal health officials with information on the nation’s equine population that will serve as a basis for education, service, and research related to equine health and management. The survey is also designed to provide the industry with new and valuable information regarding trends in the industry for 1998, 2005, and 2015.

"The findings from the NAHMS studies will allow equine owners and equine operation managers to compare their equine health and management to that of national and regional equine health occurrence and equine care practices," explained Josie Traub-Dargatz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, a professor of equine medicine and epidemiology at Colorado State University and equine commodity specialist for USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services (VS) Center for Epidemiology and Animal Health. "The study findings will also allow researchers and others to determine need for further investigation of equine health problems."

The stakeholder announcement said that, for this study, NAHMS asked equine owners, industry stakeholders, and government officials to provide input and define the information needs of the equine industry. From this process, NAHMS identified seven study objectives:

Describe trends in equine care and health management for study years (1998, 2005, and 2015);
Estimate the occurrence of owner-reported lameness and describe lameness management practices;
Describe health and management practices associated with important equine infectious diseases;
Describe health-related costs of equine ownership;
Evaluate gastrointestinal parasite control practices;
Evaluate equids for the presence of ticks, and describe tick-control practices used on equine operations; and
Collect equine blood sera along with demographic information to create a serum bank for future studies.

To collect the data for the study, representatives from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will visit randomly selected equine operations in 28 states, beginning in May 2015, and conduct personal interviews at all participating operations. Those states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Traub-Dargatz said states were selected based on the number or density of the state equine population, geographic location, and available regional workforce to conduct the study.

According to the stakeholder announcement, representatives from the USDA’s VS will schedule visits for operations that choose to continue in the second phase of the study from late summer through mid-December to administer a second questionnaire, perform a facility biosecurity assessment, collect equine blood and fecal samples, perform a tick exam of equines on the operation, and collect tick specimens for identification. Operations continuing in the study also have the option of collecting fecal samples to be tested for internal parasites in order to detect anthelmintic resistance.

Traub-Dargatz said potential participants in the study will be selected based on NASS' list of operations with equine from the 2012 Agriculture Census—horse owners and equine facility operators cannot self-select to participate. Operations in the participating states with five or more equids based on their equine inventory during the 2012 agricultural census will be eligible for selection by NASS for participation in the study.

"The selection procedure allows NAHMS to provide estimates based on having a representative sample of equine operations selected for inclusion in the study," she said.

Traub-Dargatz stressed that the study relies heavily on the participation of selected owners and equine facility operators: "It is very important for those equine owners that are selected to participate in the study to give their response on the questionnaires and have their animals be part of the biologic sampling as the selected owners/equine operations represent others in their state."

Interested individuals can see the results of the previous NAHMS equine studies at http://nahms.aphis.usda.gov.

Published in Equine Health

Pennsylvania EHV Horse showed in Maryland

Posted: 31 Mar 2015 08:10 PM PDT

A horse from Pennsylvania that appeared in a Maryland horse show on March 15 has tested positive for the equine herpes virus (EHV); however, none of the horses that were in the Maryland show and none of the horses that live with the sick horse in Pennsylvania are currently exhibiting any signs of illness. One horse that was reported to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) with a fever on March 29 tested negative for EHV.

The horse that is sick did not exhibit any symptoms until March 22 and did not exhibit any signs of illness while in Maryland. The officials of the Maryland show have contacted all trainers of horses in the division that the sick horse was shown in to alert them of the risk and recommend they monitor their horses through April 5, which is the end of the 21 day incubation period for equine herpes.

MDA’s Animal Health Program is monitoring the situation closely. Owners should contact their private veterinarians to arrange for EVH testing if a horse exhibits significant temperature elevations or neurologic signs. Veterinarians are required to report equine neurologic syndrome to MDA.

As of right now, there is no indication that any other horses that had contact with the sick Pennsylvania horse are ill. The Pennsylvania horse is reportedly improving.

Published in Equine Health
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