Hotchkiss, Joel W.
Quantitative epidemiological studies on recurrent airway obstruction in the horse population of Great Britain using a risk-screening questionnaire.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The principal aim of this study was to investigate the epidemiology of recurrent airway obstruction (RAO) in horses in Great Britain using risk-screening questionnaires (RSQ). Three processes were used to aid construction of the RSQ for RAO, namely: a review of the scientific literature, a survey of equine practitioners in the UK and a modified Delphi consultation with experts in the field of RAO.
The demographic information, generated by the questionnaire, enabled investigation of risk factors associated with the disease using multilevel, multivariable logistic regression. Two models were constructed. The first related to host and environmental risk factors and the second explored the effect of early life factors. The host and environmental model identified an increased risk of RAO in association with increasing age and the horse residing in an urban or semi-urban environment. There were also some associations that were contrary to what would be expected from knowledge of the aetiology of RAO. In particular, horses fed soaked (wet) hay had increased odds of having RAO, whilst horses fed dry hay had decreased odds. The early life model identified an increased risk of a horse having RAO if its owner had acquired them after the age of two years or that in early life it had been fed hay or had a respiratory infection.
The final stage of the study was to develop and assess an educational package for horse owners regarding the disease. RAO appears to be worryingly prevalent in the horse population of Great Britain; a real concern in terms of welfare. Much can be done to alleviate this chronic disease by controlling a horse’s environment to reduce respiratory challenge. Greater emphasis could be placed on assisting horse owners in making this transition by providing detailed guidance.
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