Showing posts with label Veterinary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Veterinary. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Koala killer being passed to joeys from mum

 

A deadly koala virus that can cause immune depletion and cancer, known as koala retrovirus, is being transferred to joeys from their mothers, according to University of Queensland scientists.

Associate Professor Keith Chappell, from UQ’s School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, said the virus predisposes koala to chlamydia and other disease, and was having a large impact on wild koala populations across Queensland and New South Wales.

“Koala retrovirus – also known as KoRV – and associated diseases are another threat facing koalas, along with climate change and habitat loss.

“The virus causes immune depletion, likely making it much harder for koalas to cope with these other, already-detrimental environmental stressors.

“All northern koalas share a single highly conserved version of KoRV that is integrated into the koala genome, however until now, we weren’t certain how other disease-causing variants are spread.

“By sequencing variations of the virus DNA in 109 captive koalas, we finally revealed how the virus spreads – from mother to joey.

“It seems that transmission between mother and joey likely occurs due to close proximity, via a joey’s exposure to a mother’s potentially infectious fluids, like their milk.

“Mothers were sharing their virus variants three times more than fathers, suggesting this is the dominant pathway of spread for the virus.

“And, unlike other diseases affecting koalas like chlamydia, there’s no evidence of sexual transmission.”

The 109 koalas were housed in two sites in south-east Queensland, helping identify a total of 421 unique koala retrovirus sequences.

Collaborator and lead author, PhD candidate Briony Joyce said the research may lead to a re-think in how conservation plans are executed.

“This work will be highly informative for koala conservation, as it suggests that captive breeding programs focused on mothers that have a low amount of retrovirus variants, could result in healthier animals for release,” Ms Joyce said.

“Also, we propose that antiretroviral treatment – if shown to be safe in koala and effective against KoRV – could be used specifically in mothers during breeding seasons to prevent transmission.

“This work helps pave the way for evidence-based conservation, increasing koala resilience to help them cope with a changing and challenging environment.

“We must do everything we can to ensure the survival of this culturally important species.”

Source/Credit: University of Queensland

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Monday, September 6, 2021

From racehorse to therapy horse

 

Photo by Jennifer Murray from Pexels
A new study will examine the selection, training and welfare of thoroughbred horses as they transition from racetrack to therapy horse. The pioneering project, led by academics at the University of Bristol’s Veterinary School in collaboration with Racing to Relate, will develop a recognized global welfare standard for former racehorses who are moving into Equine Assisted Therapy (EAT).

Thoroughbreds are recognized for their sensitivity and this project will provide a research-based approach to retraining them for therapy work. EAT careers could include work with a diverse group of people, from veterans and disabled children to those struggling with mental health issues. The research, which is funded by the John Pearce Foundation, is the first of its kind to study EAT across many countries and will look at practices in the UK, USA, France and Ireland, to understand the impact of EAT on the horses.

Claire Neveux, Bristol Vet School PhD student for the project, said: "I have worked with thoroughbreds for about 20 years, mainly with broodmares and young horses, and I have always been amazed by their high reactivity and sensitivity. I'm also fascinated by the human-horse relationship. I had a few opportunities to participate in Equine Assisted Therapy programs as an intern during my graduate studies. That's why, when I met Jennifer Twomey from Racing to Relate, I took the opportunity to be part of this pioneering and collaborative project, and I'm thrilled to contribute to this research. I'm convinced that a better understanding of the thoroughbred personality traits and suitability of horses for EAT is essential for equine and human welfare."

The main aim of the research is to create a create a global standard for selection and training, to help the racing industry to improve welfare support for off-track racehorses going into a career in EAT. The research will help industry and stakeholders to improve Thoroughbred welfare through a successful transition to their new career in EAT.

Little research has been carried out on the welfare of horses within EAT programs, and especially on the impact it may have on their wellbeing. In particular, this research will analyze the educational process for all horses within the EAT sector, to gain a clearer picture of why and how horses are selected for particular roles. The aim is to fully understand the current selection and training methods within the sector and identify specific characteristics of the thoroughbred, which are suited to a career in EAT. The study will also explore details of the life and routine of equines within EAT, examining existing perceptions and considerations of horse welfare.

Dr Mathilde Valenchon, Research Fellow at the Bristol Vet School and co-supervisor of the PhD project, added: "I am delighted we successfully developed this research project to understand and facilitate the involvement of ex-racehorses in EAT activities. I have been studying equine behaviour, cognition and welfare for the past 12 years. I have always been impressed by the thoroughbred's sensitivity and adaptability. I am thrilled to contribute to a better knowledge of their suitability for EAT and the development of standards, as this will significantly and positively impact the horses' welfare, as well as people’s. I am especially proud that our research includes the horse's perspective."

Dr Siobhan Mullan, Senior Research Fellow at Bristol Vet School, and co-supervisor of the PhD project, said: "Thoroughbred horses involved in EAT programs are performing a really special and valuable role in society, and yet little formal research has been done to understand how to optimize their welfare throughout their transition from racehorse to therapy horse and in the course of their new career. I'm heartened by the interest around the world in using the results of our research to develop standards which will have a long-lasting impact on horse welfare."

Source/Credit: University of Bristol

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