A diagnostic test that's able to identify a deadly virus believed to be present in up to 10% of horses, is now available for the first time. New Equine Virus (NEV) was first identified in 2013, and after many years of research and testing, the diagnostic test is now launching to the equine community.
NEV is the equine equivalent of HIV and is often misdiagnosed or hidden by other diseases that induce similar symptoms, like anaemia and neurological issues.
It's most commonly confused with the Swamp Fever virus (EIAV) and Equine Herpesviruses (EHV)
NEV can lead to severe neurological diseases and may prove fatal. It's the equivalent of HIV in horses, which can affect 5 to 10% of the global equine population.
The virus was discovered by Portuguese scientist and veterinarian Isabel Fidalgo Carvalho while completing her PhD in Equine Sciences at the Universities of Oporto and Pittsburgh.
“During my time at University and at Equigerminal, I noticed unusual anaemia and severe neurological signs in horses, which in my PhD I wrongly hypothesized to be attributed to Swamp Fever.” says Dr Carvalho.
“I then realized, through the samples, that this virus was actually closer to equine HIV – New Equine Virus, or NEV”.
Carvalho launched Equigerminal in 2011 with fellow equine scientist, inventor and entrepreneur, Alexandre Vieira Pires.
“We have spent the last five years developing a diagnostic test and a potential cure for NEV.” explains Pires.
“We need to raise awareness of the problem and help vets to diagnose this disease correctly.”
The new test requires a vet to take blood from the horse, which is then sent to the Equigerminal lab where it is tested. The results are returned to the owner/vet.
Once the horse has been tested, the appropriate treatment can be given and the spread of the disease is prevented.
Treatment is currently targeted towards improving the general well-being of the horse, health monitoring, and boosting the animal’s immune system. The next stage is to find a treatment, and ideally a cure for NEV.
Equigerminal hopes to develop further equine healthcare and welfare products and services, such as DNA testing services and pathogen screening to aid the world’s almost 60 million horses.
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