Equine grass sickness in Scotland: A case-control study of signalment- and meteorology- related risk factors

C.E. Wylie, Darren Shaw, Fiona M. Fordyce, A. Lilly, Bruce McGorum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Reasons for performing study
Equine grass sickness (EGS) remains a frequently fatal disease of equids in Britain. Since previous investigations of signalment- and meteorology- related risk factors for EGS have yielded some conflicting data, further investigation is warranted.

Objectives
To identify signalment- and meteorology- related risk factors for EGS in Scotland.

Methods
A retrospective time-matched case-control study was undertaken using data for 455 EGS cases and 910 time-matched controls that were referred to the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS), and average UK Meteorological Office weather station meteorological values from the month of admission of the animal, from the 3, 6 and 12 months prior to admission, and for the entire 1990 to 2006 period.
Results and conclusion

Signalment-related risk factors associated with an increased risk of EGS were native Scottish compared to cross-breeds (Odds ratio (OR) = 3.56, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 2.43-5.43) and animals living on premises located further north within the study region (OR = 1.08, CI = 1.06-1.10). There was a decreased risk of EGS in animals aged 11-20 years old compared to animals 2-10 years old (OR = 0.32, CI = 0.22-0.45), non-native Scottish pure breeds compared to cross-breeds (OR = 0.71, CI = 0.54-0-94), and stallions compared to mares (OR = 0.43, CI = 0.22-0.86). Meteorology-related risk factors associated with an increased risk of EGS were (if Ordnance Survey northing excluded) more sun hours (OR>1.43) and more frost days (OR>1.13), while there was a decreased risk of EGS with higher average maximum temperature (OR<0.83).
Potential relevance

The signalment-related risk factors will help owners identify high-risk animals, thereby allowing them to prioritise management strategies. The identification of meteorological risk factors may assist studies on the aetiology of EGS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Volume46
Issue number1
Early online date11 Mar 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2013

Keywords

  • horse,equine grass sickness; EGS; dysautonomia,epidemiology,signalment,weather

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