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Celebrating 30 Years of Equine Grass Sickness Research

The Moredun Foundation Equine Grass Sickness Fund (EGSF) was launched in 1988 by Moredun and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies to provide a research hub dedicated to improving treatment, finding the cause and developing means of preventing this devastating disease.

To mark the 30th anniversary of the charity, a research conference was held at Pentlands Science Park on Saturday 28th April.

Moredun’s Chief Executive, Professor Julie Fitzpatrick opened the special event which saw over 100 distinguished delegates gather to hear the latest research updates from a number of excellent speakers:

  • Elspeth Milne gave an update on her work looking at the residual damage caused by the disease. This research has been enabled by generous owners who have donated their horses at the end of their lives, having previously survived a battle with the disease.
  • Joy Leng provided an update on her research into the faecal bacteria and biomarker discovery in equine grass sickness (EGS). In particular four metabolites were identified in the urine of horses with EGS which could potentially lead to a non-invasive means of diagnosis.
  • Luanne Hunt gave an update on her current project looking at mycotoxigenic fungi as a possible cause of the disease.
  • Jo Ireland spoke about the nationwide vaccine trial investigating Clostridium botulinum type C, the data from which is currently being analysed.
  • EGS nurse Lisa Henderson spoke about nursing chronic cases and the difficult welfare questions this raises.
  • Rachel Jago presented her findings on body weight in chronic cases, and whether this can be used to predict survival.
  • Scott Pirie gave a talk on how to reduce the risk of EGS.

The conference ended with John Keen chairing a Q&A panel with additional guest panellists Bruce McGorum of the Dick Vet, Richard Newton of the Animal Health Trust and Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare.

During the day Roly Owers presented the Heidi Award for EGSF Supporter of the Year 2018 to Yvonne Maclean, organiser of the Ross-shire Fun Show. Carina Cuthbert also attended on behalf of Hunter Macdonald, Lindsay Macrae and Sarah Milne to receive a special 30th Anniversary Award for Best Team as invaluable supporters of Yvonne’s inventive fundraising initiatives.

The Heidi Award was donated in 2015 by Sam and Rebecca Seath in memory of their mare Heidi who was lost to grass sickness.

For more information about equine grass sickness and the work of the fund please visit the EGSF website.