Learn more about respiratory problems in horses

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At the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) annual congress last month, mention was made of a newly recognised lung condition first reported in the USA in 2007.

Equine multinodular pulmonary fibrosis (EMPF) is a disease where horses develop hard, fibrous lumps on the surface of their lungs.

It leads to weight loss, loss of appetite, coughing, rapid breathing and fever.

A particular variety of equine herpes virus, EHV 5, appears to be associated with the disease, although little is known about how it is transmitted or the prevalence of the virus throughout the general horse population.

Horse vets in the UK have been following this unfolding story with interest, but more for academic interest than clinical concern.

But in the week before the congress, Liverpool Vet School reported that it had diagnosed two cases of this disease in the UK – and both horses also carried the EHV 5 virus.

Vets from Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary reported six more cases, only one of which appeared to recover after expensive treatment with an anti-viral therapy.

We do not know whether the disease has been present at a very low level in this country for some time and has not been recognised, or whether it is new.

For the time being, it is not something we should be unduly worried about, but further clinical research is on the cards.

For the full verterinary article on the latest research and development, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (13 October, 2011)

Read more about respiratory problems in horses