A stall-side blood test designed to alert veterinarians to health concerns in horses before clinical signs develop is officially being debuted today (Aug. 9) at the Dublin Horse Show, in Ireland.
The "StableLab" test—created by former international show jumper Heinrich Anhold, BSc, PhD—measures horses' levels of serum amyloid A (SAA), a protein released in response to inflammation or infection. SAA isn't detectable in healthy horses, but increases 12 to 24 hours after the onset of infection or after severe trauma. To date, SAA tests have only been carried out in laboratory settings; the StableLab test can provide results at the horse's stall within minutes, the product's website indicated.
Anhold says the test—which is designed to alert veterinarians to the presence of viral or bacterial infections—can benefit riders and horse owners of all disciplines.
"Infections can occur in all horses and can affect performance," he said. "For example, show jumpers are using our test to screen for viruses after travel." Racehorse trainers and veterinarians, on the other hand, might use the test to check for lung infections, he said, while stud farm veterinarians might use it to try to identify Rhodococcus equi infections in foals.
“We have been using StableLab for the past number of months in our clinical practice," said Nathan Slovis, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, CHT, internal medicine specialist at Hagyard Equine Medicine Institute, in Lexington, Ky. "We find that it is an earlier and more sensitive indicator of equine inflammatory and infectious diseases than other lab methods."
Anhold added, "While anyone can use this test, because it's … easy to use and interpret, we recommend that people use this test in conjunction and under the supervision of their veterinarian.
“As someone who has competed at the (Dublin Horse Show) on show day, I know what you need from your horse and the value of being able to confirm on the spot that your horse is good to compete," he concluded. "We’ve worked really hard over the last few years to design a product that brings together the science and the technology, in a way that works for the industry."
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.