In 2007 the once equine flu free Australia suffered a major outbreak of the disease. More than 76,000 horses were infected during the sixteen month epidemic, with the virus travelling 1–1.5km per day either by horse, human or in the environment. Spread of the disease was rapid, initiating from the importation of one or more infected horses and the failure of quarantine containment.
Movement of horses came to a standstill and an emergency vaccination programme of up to 170,000 horses began, to combat further spread and infection. ”The importance and role played by emergency vaccination was debated.” reports Head of Immunology, Dr Romain Pallot, “However, models of the outbreak revealed that vaccine implementation; alongside biosecurity measures, surveillance and movement restriction, were effective in the eradication of equine influenza in Australia. It is a huge success for vets, owners and equine businesses that they have been able to regain flu-free status again; a huge step in improving horse health and welfare and we are very proud to have played our part.”
Our AHT Infectious Diseases Department was not only involved in identifying the strain of influenza virus, but also the vaccine that was needed. Our research allowed for effective responses to be made at the time of the outbreak, but will protect horses from infection in the future. To find out more, read the full report here
Streptococcus equi superantigens (SeeH, SeeI, SeeL & SeeM) are thought to contribute to the pathogenicity of strangles through non-specific T-cell activation and pro-inflammatory response. We have characterised their immunological in vitro activity (Paillot et al, Inf. & Imm. 2010a) and confirmed their potential as powerful pathogenic factors (Figure 1).
In collaboration with the AHT Bacteriology team, we have also identified and characterises the activity and diversity of three novel superantigens in S. zooepidemicus (SzeF, SzeN,SzeP) (Paillot et al, Inf. & Imm. 2010b). Survey results indicate that the presence of novel superantigen genes is generally associated with the development of non-strangles lymph node abscessation in horses but is also significantly dissociated with uterine infection (Rash et al, Res. Vet. Science 2014).
Immunity to equine streptococcal pathogens: immune response stimulation and deregulation. One key area of our research is the study of pathogenic factors that influence/misdirect the host immune response.
Streptococcus equi and Streptococcus zooepidemicus are very important pathogens of the horse. Find out more in Bacteriology.
In order to support our previous work, we have recently investigated the activity of Streptococcus equi superantigens in vivo at different stages of the infection. Our results show that superantigens are present during both acute and carrier phases of the disease (McLean et al, Res. Vet. Science 2015) (Figure 2). Our current interest focuses on innate immune response to Streptococcus equi in order to better understand protective mechanisms during Strangles.