While the majority of horses have been exposed to the Equine Herpes Virus, it doesn’t cause serous problems for most. Nevertheless, learning more about the disease is an important step towards successful management. Dr. Diego Gomez-Nieto, researcher at the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph, is part of a study on the EHV-1 virus that made a significant discovery about the nasal microbiota of infected horses as opposed to those of a healthy control group.
The researchers found that nasal bacterial microbiota in healthy horses is richer and more diverse than previously reported using culture-based methodology. “We found…a myriad of different types of bacteria in the nasal cavity of the horse, and they are kept in a normal balance,” says Dr. Gomez-Nieto. “However, when there is a respiratory infection from a virus (like EHV-1), the normal balance of the nasal bacterial population is disrupted, allowing some pathogenic bacteria to proliferate and cause disease. One of those diseases is pneumonia. The results of our study helps to explain why and how pneumonia develops in horses after a viral infection of the respiratory tract.
“We are learning more about the interaction between viruses and bacteria,” he adds. “Usually, the virus enters the respiratory system, produces inflammation and decreases the mechanisms of defense of the respiratory tract. When those mechanisms are not working anymore, pathogenic bacteria are able to colonize the respiratory tract.”
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