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As the grass starts to grow and turn green this spring, many of your footcare clients will be concerned about potential laminitis problems. While it’s a legitimate concern, some data I’ve come across recently from Rutgers University researchers indicates there may be other laminitis issues than just lush grass.
In fact, the data has led to the possibility that pasture-inducted laminitis could actually represent an early stage of chronic laminitis that occurs as a result of exposure to potential bacterial pathogens living in the pastured grasses.
Researcher Janet Onishi says this theory has surfaced because of new results showing that laminar tissues collected from chronically laminitic horses had higher bacteria numbers compared with laminar tissues from non-laminitic horses. A number of different types of bacteria that can live in soil and water were recovered from these horses.
However, the results are not clear as to whether the bacteria caused the chronic laminitis or were simply present due to the impact of the disease.
To further look at this possibility, bacterial counts were taken from tissue collected from horses where acute laminitis had been induced by carbohydrate overload.
While higher levels of bacteria were not detected in the laminar tissues from animals that displayed early symptoms of lameness, these horses did develop diarrhea and fever prior to the lameness. This suggests colitis or an intestinal infection may have occurred.
Yet to the best of the knowledge of the Rutgers researchers, horses that develop pasture-induced laminitis don’t tend to display…