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Kentucky Ag News Headlines
Website Features UK's Historic Parasitology Horse Herds
Kentucky Ag Connection - 01/03/2018

The University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center equine parasitology group has launched a new website--horseparasites.ca.uky.edu--to increase awareness of two unique horse herds researchers have maintained at the university since the 1970s.

The website features the history of these equine parasitology research herds and is managed by Martin Nielsen, DVM, PhD, Dipl. EVPC, ACVM, associate professor and Schlaikjer Professor of Equine Infectious Disease at the Gluck Center.

"We felt it was time to tell this unique story," Nielsen said. "My colleague, Dr. Eugene T. Lyons (PhD), established these herds back when drug-resistant parasites were not the common finding. Dr. Lyons knew how these herds would become extremely valuable down the road. What an incredible foresight."

Website users can find videos and a complete list of peer-reviewed articles published to report four decades of research conducted using these herds, including:

- The epidemiology of important equine parasites and the impact of age, seasonality, and immunity on parasite burdens;

- Documentation of how parasites responded to traditional deworming schedules by becoming multi-drug-resistant;

- A chronicle of how drug resistance does not disappear once it has developed, regardless of whether the horses are dewormed;

- The development of new diagnostic methods for detecting important equine parasites, including a blood test for bloodworms, an ultrasound method for ascarids, and a smartphone-based automated egg counting system;

- Evaluation of novel deworming programs, such as various forms of combination deworming; and

- Molecular studies of the mechanisms behind drug resistance.

Nielsen also created the #HistoricHerds hashtag on Twitter to help disseminate information about these horses.

In addition to their value as a research resource, Nielsen introducing numerous undergraduate, graduate, and veterinary students to the historic herds each year. Handling the horses is a popular and useful weekly activity for these students.

"Our department has been privileged to have funding sources to sustain these herds for 40 years," Nielsen said. "However, state and federal funding sources are diminishing year by year, and we are seeking philanthropic support to sustain these unique resources for the future. Dr. Lyons started this incredible journey, and my mission is to make sure that it continues. We need this research now more than ever."

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