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Botulinum Neurotoxins and Grass Sickness have different effects on Equine Autonomic Nerves.
The causes of equine of Equine Grass Sickness remains unproven. Despite considerable evidence suggesting that it is caused by toxins from Clostridium Botulinum types C and or D, the effect of Equine Grass Sickness on the functional target proteins of Botulinum neurotoxins, termed SNARE proteins, is unknown. Furthermore while it is commonly stated that, unlike Equine Grass Sickness, equine Botulism is not associated with degeneration of autonomic and intestinal nerves, this has not been definitively assessed.
Researchers at the R(D)SVS ,The Roslin Institute, Scottish Agriculture College, Newcastle University, and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory Dubai, compared autonomic and intestinal nerves in horses with Botulism and Grass Sickness, and found significant differences. Firstly, nerves from horses with Grass Sickness undergo characteristic degeneration. with many nerves ultimately dying. In contrast nerves from horses with Botulism do not show degeneration, the muscle paralysis which characterises botulism being attributable to functional neuromuscular blockade rather than to nerve degeneration. Secondly, nerves from Grass Sickness horses had increased levels of the SNARE ptoteins which serve as the target for Botulism.
The three nerve chages occurring in Equine Grass Sickness, but not in Botulism, suggests that Equine Grass Sickness may not be caused by Botulinum neurotoxins, but dose not rule out the possibilty that it could be caused by some of the other toxins that are produced by Clostridium Botulinum C and or D, such as C2 and or C3 toxins.
The project was funded by the RCVS Trust Blue Sky Research Fund, The Equine Grass Sickness Fund, and The Dubai Millennium Research Foundation.
The study is published by BC McGorum, S Scholes, EM Milne, SL Eaton, TM Wishart, IR Poxton, S Moss, U Wernery, T Davey, JB Harris, and RS Pirie, in the Equine Vet Journal DOI: 10.1111/evj. 12543
A summary of the clinical signs of the three forms of Grass Sickness.
ACUTE :- Depression/Somnolence. Distended abdomen. Absence of gut sounds. High heart rate. Salivation. Gastric reflux. Muscle tremors. Drooping eyelids. Ratchy, generalized sweating. Difficculty swallowing. Small intestine destension. Colic (occasionally). Colon impactions (occasionally).
SUBACUTE :- Tucked abdomen. Weight Loss. Difficulty swallowing. High heart rate. Colic as disease progresses. Gastric reflux as disease progresses. Patchy sweating. Drooping eylids. Muscle tremors. Colon impaction. Dried & inflamed nasal passages.
CHRONIC :- Severe weight loss. Markedly tucked up abdomen. Base narrow stance. Dried & inflamed nasal passages. Drooping eyelids. Slightly elevated heart rate. Muscle tremors. Patchy sweating. Mild colic. reduced gut motility.
This information was supplied by The Moredun Foundation, Equine Grass Sickness Fund. www.grasssickness.org.uk