Equine species

What do we study?

Equine species
Equine herpesvirus and Equine Influenza virus.

Dr Neil Bryant in the Department of Veterinary Medicine is Principal Investigator on the Equine herpesvirus vaccine development programme, funded by the Alborada Trust and the EBM charitable Trust. Outbreaks on stud farms in unvaccinated pregnant mares can lead to extremely high rates of late gestation abortion, termed ’abortion storms.’ Commercially available vaccines have been shown to induce high levels of virus-neutralising antibody and are able to reduce the extent of virus shedding of EHV-1 from infected horses, however they offer poor protection against abortion.

A second strand of research studies Equine influenza, the major endemic infectious disease threat to UK racing Thoroughbred horses. Serious outbreaks can cause cancellation of events and lead to movement restrictions. The best way to protect against infection is to vaccinate horses regularly. However, the virus is gradually changing so it is important that vaccines are updated to represent circulating strains. In order to update vaccines, we need to know how the virus is changing and this programme collects essential data regarding the genetic and antigenic changes occurring.