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Equine grass sickness
Equine grass sickness (EGS) or dysautonomia is a potentially fatal disease of horses, ponies and donkeys. It primarily affects animals between the age of two and seven years that are pasture-grazed, hence its name. Visible symptoms include colic, difficulty in swallowing, drooling, muscle tremors, rapid weight loss and behavioural abnormalities. The disease, which has a high mortality rate, causes impaired intestinal activity as a result of damage to the autonomic nervous system. Incidences of the disease are more likely to occur from April to July, and on premises where there has been a previous outbreak. While there have been a number of scientific studies investigating EGS since it was first documented in 1907, the causative agents remain speculative, hindering efforts to develop diagnostic testing and treatment. It is likely that the disease is linked to elements of the animals’ diet, either in the food or the drinking water. Currently, Dr Sarah Edwards and Dr Russhawn Aldridge under the supervision of Professor Michael Heinrich are investigating the causes of EGS, including environmental factors.
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