Intrinsic, management, and nutritional factors associated with equine motor neuron disease

Ricardo de la Rúa-Domènech From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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Hussni O. Mohammed From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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John F. Cummings From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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Thomas J. Divers From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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Alexander de Lahunta From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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Brian A. Summers From the Departments of Clinical Sciences (de la Rúa-Domènech, Mohammed, Divers), Anatomy (Cummings, de Lahunta), and Pathology (Summers), College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14850-6401.

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Objective

To identify intrinsic, management, nutritional, and environmental risk factors associated with equine motor neuron disease (EMND) and to determine whether epidemiologic evidence supports oxidative stress as a risk factor for developing EMND.

Design

Case-control study.

Animals

87 horses with EMND and 259 control horses.

Procedure

Information concerning each horse’s history of exposure to multiple environmental factors prior to developing EMND was obtained by means of a questionnaire or personal interview. Exposure histories of horses with EMND and control horses were compared, and the association of each risk factor with EMND was evaluated, using logistic regression analysis.

Results

Factors significantly associated with risk of developing EMND included age, breed of horse, duration of residence at the farm, not vaccinating against rabies, and certain feeding practices. Horses that were exercised on green pasture or in grass paddocks were less likely to develop EMND, compared with horses that were exercised in dirt paddocks. Feeding complete pelleted feed as the only source of concentrate or combined with sweet feed was associated with a significant increase in the risk of EMND. Supplementary feeding of vitamin and mineral mixtures not formulated to provide vitamin E or selenium was associated with increased risk of EMND. Horses with a history of cribbing or coprophagia were also at higher risk of developing EMND.

Clinical Implications

Several husbandry practices and intrinsic characteristics of horses appear to modify the risk of EMND. The relationship of specific nutritional factors to EMND supports the hypothesis that a deficiency of vitamin E contributes to the disease. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1261–1267)

Objective

To identify intrinsic, management, nutritional, and environmental risk factors associated with equine motor neuron disease (EMND) and to determine whether epidemiologic evidence supports oxidative stress as a risk factor for developing EMND.

Design

Case-control study.

Animals

87 horses with EMND and 259 control horses.

Procedure

Information concerning each horse’s history of exposure to multiple environmental factors prior to developing EMND was obtained by means of a questionnaire or personal interview. Exposure histories of horses with EMND and control horses were compared, and the association of each risk factor with EMND was evaluated, using logistic regression analysis.

Results

Factors significantly associated with risk of developing EMND included age, breed of horse, duration of residence at the farm, not vaccinating against rabies, and certain feeding practices. Horses that were exercised on green pasture or in grass paddocks were less likely to develop EMND, compared with horses that were exercised in dirt paddocks. Feeding complete pelleted feed as the only source of concentrate or combined with sweet feed was associated with a significant increase in the risk of EMND. Supplementary feeding of vitamin and mineral mixtures not formulated to provide vitamin E or selenium was associated with increased risk of EMND. Horses with a history of cribbing or coprophagia were also at higher risk of developing EMND.

Clinical Implications

Several husbandry practices and intrinsic characteristics of horses appear to modify the risk of EMND. The relationship of specific nutritional factors to EMND supports the hypothesis that a deficiency of vitamin E contributes to the disease. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1261–1267)

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