New Ultra-Sensitive DNA Test Identifies Lyme Disease In Hard-To-ID Case – Horse Racing News

New Ultra-Sensitive DNA Test Identifies Lyme Disease In Hard-To-ID Case – Horse Racing News

|08.23.2022|8:56am

An 11-year-old Swedish Warmblood admitted to Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine was assisted by a Rutgers New Jersey Medical School professor when vets suspected Lyme disease, but a traditional PCR test wasn’t confirming the diagnosis.

Lyme disease is transmitted by the deer tick; horses are dead-end hosts, meaning they can get Lyme disease, but cannot spread it. Not all infected horses develop clinical signs of the disease, which includes weight loss, low-grade fever, and lameness. Long-term complications can include damage to the joints, skin, and nervous system. Vision can also be affected.

Early detection and treatment of Lyme disease is imperative to giving a horse the best chance for complete recovery. Determination of Lyme disease is traditionally done through an antibody test. However, because Lyme disease reproduces slowly, these tests are sometimes unable to detect Lyme disease DNA, which is only present if the horse has the active disease. If the test is unable to detect Lyme disease, veterinarians will continue to search for the cause of illness, delaying treatment of the disease and possibly leading to long-term complications.

Dr. Steven Schutzer, a Rutgers medicine professor, created an ultra-sensitive test designed to selectively identify Lyme disease DNA in the horse’s spinal fluid. This test concluded that the mare was suffering from Lyme disease – despite the inconclusive PCR test. Non-neurologic Lyme disease treatment often includes administration of intravenous antibiotics. 

The mare returned to her previous level of competition once treated for Lyme disease.

The scientists feel that the ultra-sensitive test may have applications for other difficult-to-detect illness in horses, humans, and dogs.

Read more at HorseTalk.