Oklahoma State Spearheads New EHV Research

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Dr. Lara Maxwell, Assistant Professor of Physiological Sciences at the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, has received a grant from Grayson Jockey Club Foundation to study the efficacy of an antiviral drug to fight Equine Herpes Virus Type I (EHV-1).

The study will revolve around the testing of an antiviral drug called valacyclovir. Laboratory and live animal data suggest that this drug will be effective if given in the same doses that Maxwell's team will be administering.

"We will test the drug to see whether it protects horses from EHV-1," says Dr. Maxwell. "This is a two year study, but we hope to have preliminary results by the 2008 meeting of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). If the drug is effective, this project will have far reaching consequences for horse owners and the horse industry."

"This virus can affect horses of any age, but causes different signs of disease in foals, pregnant mares, and in other adult horses," explains Dr. Maxwell. "Recent outbreaks of EHV-1 at farms and racetracks around the U.S. have caused severe neurological disease in adult, vaccinated horses. Therefore, current vaccines don't seem to fully protect these horses from the devastating affects of EHV-1."

Dr. Maxwell will be collaborating with various researchers from the Veterinary Center and will also team up with colleagues Drs. Brad Bentz at the Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Lexington, Kentucky, and George Allen, at the University of Kentucky.

(this report is edited from an OSU press release)

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