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Browsing by Author "Oranen-Ben Fatma, Silja"

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  • Oranen-Ben Fatma, Silja (2021)
    Equine asthma is a disease syndrome comprised of two diseases, mild and severe asthma. Both diseases can affect the horses performance and intended use. The diseases can be differentiated from each other based on clinical signs, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and tracheal wash (TW) analyses. A horse can recover from mild asthma where as severe asthma is an irreversible disease. Severe asthma is also inheritable, although the exact genes are not known. Environmental factors play an important role in both diseases, with dust, mold, noxious gases and endotoxins being recognized as influencing factors. These components are present in horses’ stable environments. Bedding material in horse stalls is used to absorb moisture and ammonia, and to provide suitable bedding for horses to lay on. The two main bedding materials used in Finland are shavings and peat. They differ in their capability to absorb moisture and ammonia, as well as in their microbiological quality. Peat has higher moisture and ammonia binding capacity but shavings has higher microbiological quality. Horses can spend a big part of their day in the stalls, which increases the importance of using high quality bedding material, which has minimum effect on the respiratory system. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of peat and shavings on the horses’ respiratory health. 32 horses participated in the study and they were kept 35 days on each bedding material, during three time periods. Peat was used before (peat 1) and after (peat 2) the shavings period. After each 35 day period the horses were examined, BALF and TW samples were collected and analyzed. The results show a significant increase in the TW neutrophil percentage during the shavings period (peat 1: 16.7%, shavings: 32.8%, peat 2: 13.4%). Similar results were noticed in the BALF results, with a significant difference in the neutrophil percentage when comparing shavings and peat 2, but also between the two peat periods (peat 1: 2.7%, shavings: 3.4%, peat 2: 1.6%). None of the horses participating in the study were diagnosed with mild or severe asthma based on the results and clinical signs, even though the high TW neutrophil percentage during the shavings period strongly suggest towards neutrophilic airway inflammation. The results indicate a higher irritation level in the equine respiratory system when shavings was used as bedding material. The difference in the BALF neutrophil percentages during the peat periods may be caused by the horses being taken in from pasture before the peat 1 period. The higher peat 1 results can there fore represent a reaction to the change in environment rather then the actual bedding itself. More research is needed with longer time spent on different bedding materials, combined with exercise tolerance tests, to give insight on the bedding’s effect on physical performance.