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First case of Fragile Foal Syndrome found in thoroughbred horse
"While clearly a distressing condition for affected foals and their owners, the good news is that this lethal syndrome can be avoided with testing and careful mating selection" - Jessica Roach, PhD Student at the RVC.

The disorder was previously thought to affect only warmblood horses

A new study has discovered the first case of Fragile Foal Syndrome (FFS) in a thoroughbred horse, a condition previously found only in warmblood horses.

The collaborative study was carried out by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), the University of California Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory (VGL) and Rossdales Laboratories, Newmarket. 

FFS is a connective tissue defect caused by a change in DNA within the procollagen-lysine, 2-oxoglutarate 5-dioxygenase1 (PLOD1) gene. It causes extensive skin lesions and musculoskeletal abnormalities, and the affected foals are aborted, stillborn or euthanised soon after birth owing to their condition.

As a autosomal recessive disorder, foals are affected if they have two copies of the mutation, so genetic testing is important for informing breeding decisions. This discovery is therefore particularly significant in highlighting the necessity of testing thoroughbred horses before breeding. 

PhD student at the RVC, Jessica Roach, said: “Pregnancy loss, stillbirth and neonatal death remain an important source of reproductive losses for horse breeders worldwide.

"Over the course of my PhD we have collated a large biobank of tissue and data from late term pregnancy losses through the generous co-operation of UK and Ireland TB stud farms and Rossdales Laboratories, Newmarket. 

“This has allowed us to explore the risk factors and pathology of many different causes of abortion and stillbirth. The collaboration with UC Davis and Lexi Grillos provided a fantastic opportunity to explore Fragile Foal Syndrome in our TB population and identify the first TB affected individual. 

“Whilst clearly a distressing condition for affected foals and their owners, the good news is that this lethal syndrome can be avoided with testing and careful mating selection.”

The study is published in Equine Veterinary Journal, and is available online at beva.onlinelibrary.wiley.com.

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Avian flu outbreak at RSPB Minsmere

News Story 1
 RSPB Minsmere nature reserve in Suffolk has confirmed an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza on its site. The coastal nature reserve has seen an increase in dead birds recently, and has said that it is 'extremely concerned' about the potential impacts on bird populations, with 2021 and 2022 seeing the largest ever outbreak in the UK.

In a statement, RSPB said: "We appreciate that it is distressing, for both visitors and staff, to see dead or dying birds at our site but we ask that if visitors see any dead or unwell birds, they do not touch or go near them and that they report it to us at our Visitor Centre during its opening hours, or by emailing us on minsmere@rspb.org.uk outside of these times."  

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Moredun Foundation Award opens for applications

The 2022-2023 Moredun Foundation Award (MFA) is now open for members, with up to £2,000 available for successful applicants.

The MFA honours the contribution that education, teamwork, life experience, and travel have made to the understanding of cattle health and welfare. Through its charitable endeavours, Moredun offers its members the opportunity to pursue projects that support personal development.

The prize is open to a wide range of project applications, including those that include producing educational tools, conducting a small research project, or studying farming methods in other nations. For more information and to apply, visit moredun.org.uk