South African Bleeders Study Begins

An international collaboration of researchers launched a study in July to examine the prevalence and severity of exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in more than 800 South African Thoroughbreds. The group from the University of Pretoria, The Ohio State University (OSU), and the University of Kentucky (UK) also will examine the effect of altitude on EIPH.

EIPH is known for its negative effect on high-performance equine athletes, and has been detected in 40-70% of U.S. Thoroughbred racehorses, depending on the study. Definitive diagnosis is by post-exercise (within 90 minutes of racing) endoscopic examination of the upper respiratory tract and finding blood in the trachea. EIPH has severe economic and welfare implications for the racing industry.

This study uses techniques similar to a 2004 Australian study by Kenneth W. Hinchcliff, BVSc, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at OSU (, showing that EIPH significantly decreases Thoroughbred race performance. Hinchcliff is one of the scientists heading the current study.

The team will also monitor racehorses at sea level and at altitudes above 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) to see whether altitude significantly affects EIPH frequency. Finally, David W. Horohov, PhD, an immunologist at UK's Gluck Equine Research Center, will help determine if inflammation conditions are present in EIPH horses.

"EIPH is a serious problem for the equine industry and the underlying mechanism remains unclear," said Horohov. "Here we hope to determine whether EIPH is associated with the induction of an inflammatory condition characterized by the production of certain cytokines (substances produced by white blood cells when there is inflammation in the body). This information could lead to new ways to treat or prevent this condition."

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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