Scientists behind a nationwide surveillance scheme to help prevent equine grass sickness (EGS) are appealing for information from equine vets who have experienced this debilitating illness.

With a mortality rate of more than 90 per cent, researchers are desperate to find a way of stopping this devastating illness. More than 100 years after EGS was first indentified in Scotland, there is still a desperate lack of basic knowledge regarding the disease.

A project aiming to prevent equine grass sickness is appealing for information from equine vets and owners Scientists at the Animal Health Trust (AHT), along with the Universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool and the Equine Grass Sickness Fund, have launched the first even nationwide surveillance scheme.

Funded by The Horse Trust, the surveillance scheme aims to analyse trends revealing where and when cases occur across the UK.

As well as giving an accurate picture of the true welfare impact of EGS, the database developed through the scheme will also play an important part in future EGS vaccine development.

Georgette Kluiters, grass sickness research assistant at the AHT, said: “April to June is predominantly the time when the number of EGS cases peak in the UK. We had notification of just five cases in the first quarter of 2009, but the number of cases in the second quarter has shown a sharp 10-fold increase, with more than 50 reports so far.

“We’re appealing to owners whose horses have suffered with the illness, or vets who have treated horses with the illness at any time throughout the year, to let us know. It is never too late to submit a case – your information is vital.”

If you have treated or own a horse suffering from EGS, you can help with this important research simply by completing a short questionnaire at . All information submitted will remain confidential.

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