We are a Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) approved equine hospital.
Equine grass sickness (EGS) is a disease of the nerves that coordinate intestinal movement, which causes the digestive system to stop functioning properly.
For many years the cause of the disease was unknown, but it is now thought that toxins released from the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum cause the disease. The signs of the disease shown by horses with EGS reflect the damage to the nervous system.
Grass sickness occurs in several different forms, ranging from acute to chronic:
The only treatment for chronic EGS is intensive nursing and we have had some success with this at BELL EQUINE. This sort of intensive care may be prolonged and costly, but can have survival rates that range from 36-70%. The majority of recovered cases return to their previous level of work.
If you would like more information on this, please contact BELL EQUINE on 01622 813700
This advice is particularly relevant to the owners of horses on 'high risk' premises, i.e. premises that have recently given rise to a case of EGS
Further information is available at the Equine Grass Sickness Fund.
Equine grass sickness shows marked clustering in time and space. In other words, when a horse on particular premises is diagnosed with the disease, there is an increased risk of other horses close-by also suffering from the disease for a period of approximately one month. The radius of increased risk is at least 10km but there is likely to be a gradient of risk; risk is highest on the affected premises and decreases with distance from those premises.
Until the exact cause is known, it is difficult to give sound advice regarding prevention. In areas where the disease is prevalent, stabling the animals during the spring and early summer will reduce the likelihood of disease. Following the discovery of an association with weather, some owners living in affected areas now stable their horses when dry weather with a temperature of 7-11°C has persisted for 10 consecutive days. Stabling is particularly advisable for a new horse that has been moved onto premises where the disease is known to occur. If certain fields are “bad” for the disease, they can be grazed by other stock, especially in spring and summer.
If a case occurs amongst a group of horses, it is probably best to move the others out of that field, provided this does not involve too much stress associated with transportation or mixing with strange horses. If horses cannot be moved from the pasture then supplementary feeding with hay, haylage or hard feed may reduce the amount of grass the horses eat. It has been suggested that feeding haylage to grazing horses may have a protective effect…and FINALLY please watch out for laminitis, which is the other disease we see too much of in our horses and ponies turned out on the Spring grass in the early part of the year.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01622 813700.
Below are several usueful links with further information on Equine Grass Sickness: