Q1. How do I arrange to test my ponies?
Contact your breed club – either the Fell Pony Society or the Dales Pony Society – and ask them if you can be sent sample submission bag(s). Alternatively your vet can request sample bags directly from the AHT by emailing FIStesting@aht.org.uk or calling Angie Stagg on 01638 555645. Arrange for your vet to take the sample from your pony, and complete the form which is stuck onto the bag. Wherever possible please attach micro-chipping information. Post the sample to the address shown on the bag.
Q2. I am not a member of either the Fell Pony Society or the Dales Pony Society - can I still submit a sample?
Yes -your vet can request sample bags directly from the AHT by emailing FIStesting@aht.org.uk or calling Angie Stagg on 01638 555645.
Q3. What type of sample needs to be sent?
A pulled mane or tail hair sample needs to be sent. It is very important that the hair is pulled and not cut, as the hair root needs to be retained. These should be placed in the sample bag and securely sealed, and the form on the bag fully and clearly filled in. Instructions will accompany sample bags.
Q4. Is there a minimum age my foals can be tested?
No. As soon as you can pull a sample of mane or tail hair with roots.
Q5. I have a foal and it is suspected that it may be suffering from FIS – can you confirm this?
Yes. Submit a sample as outlined above. This sample will be fast-tracked and if your foal does unfortunately have FIS, then this will be confirmed within three working days.
Q6. How much does it cost?
The basic price is £40.85 including VAT. Your vet may add a fee for collecting the sample and confirming pony identity.
Q7. How will I receive my FIS results?
The results will be reported back to your vet.
Q8. Can I phone the Animal Health Trust to ask for my results?
No. In order to maintain confidentiality the results will only be reported to the submitting practice vet by either mail or email.
Q9. Will I get a certificate?
Yes, your certificate will be mailed to your vet to pass on to you. You can use this to demonstrate the carrier status of your pony.
Q10. How long will results take to come through?
All foal samples will be “fast-tracked” as some of these will be diagnostic samples from foals which are showing clinical symptoms. Foal results will be available 3 working days after sample receipt. Results from adult ponies will be available within 30 days of sample receipt.
Q11. What do my results mean?
Results will identify each pony as either:
CLEAR: these ponies do not carry the FIS mutation, so will not develop FIS or pass it on to their offspring.
CARRIER: these ponies have one copy of the FIS mutation and will not develop FIS. There is however a 50% risk that any offspring will inherit the mutation from this parent, and therefore become carriers themselves.
AFFECTED: these foals have two copies of the FIS mutation and will develop FIS.
Q12. Won’t it be best then just to avoid breeding with CARRIERS?
No. Only allowing CLEAR ponies to breed could have a detrimental effect on breed diversity and substantially increase the likelihood of new inherited diseases in the future. Therefore, we strongly advise breeders to consider both CLEAR and CARRIER ponies for breeding. CARRIER ponies should only be bred to DNA tested, CLEAR ponies in order to avoid the risk of FIS. All offspring which have a CARRIER parent should be DNA tested before they are used for breeding. Very gradually CARRIERS should be discarded from the breeding population so that the genetic diversity within the population is maintained as much as possible. In this way the prevalence of the mutation will be gradually and safely reduced.
If your question is not answered by one of the above please click on FIStesting@aht.org.uk to email your question