Blood test shows chances of survival
A STUDY has revealed that a blood test can give an indication of a horse’s chances of surviving atypical myopathy.
The often-fatal illness is usually found in grazing horses and is linked to the seeds of the sycamore tree. Signs of atypical myopathy include muscular weakness and stiffness, dark urine, fatigue, colic-like signs, shivering and sweating.
University of Liège researchers used blood samples collected from cases of atypical myopathy between autumn 2006 and spring 2015. They found that a horse’s chance of survival could be estimated from levels of three acylcarnitines (metabolic byproducts) in the blood.
The team said this information could be used to prevent the “unnecessary suffering of animals that are unlikely to survive” and be used to “focus support on those that have a favourable prognosis”.
“The striking finding of this study is the ability to specify a prognosis based on early blood testing, at the start of the clinical examination by the practitioner or even at a sub-clinical state as shown by one horse that was sampled three hours before clinical signs became apparent,” the researchers said.
“In this context, survival prognosis could be of critical interest to prevent euthanasia. Indeed, intensive care may be focused on animals with good survival expectancy while individuals with high death probability could be sacrificed more ‘pragmatically’ when there are signs of suffering that cannot be suppressed.”