Bulletin Board: 03/01

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No West Nile “Cure”
Rumors about West Nile are flying again, this time due to a December press release by Mary Ann Liebert Inc., publishers of Viral Immunology. The release, titled “New Treatment for West Nile Virus Reported in Special Issue of Viral Immunology,” got a lot people’s hopes up about the drug ribavirin.

The information comes from the October Journal of Infectious Diseases, in which researchers at the University of California at Irvine describe what initially sounds like a breakthrough “cure” for West Nile.

The researchers did an analysis “of the efficacy of the nucleoside analogue ribavirin, a broad-spectrum antiviral compound with activity against several RNA viruses, for treatment of WNV infection. High doses of ribavirin were found to inhibit WNV replication and cytopathogenicity in human neural cells in vitro.”

What isn’t immediately apparent is that the study was done in human nervous system cells, grown in a laboratory dish. They used high doses of an antiviral drug that has never been used in horses. The drug inhibited but did not kill the West Nile virus.

We believe this is a far cry from proof it would help a horse. Dosage and safety are also issues. Other antiviral drugs given to horses have been found to have a low safety margin, potentially causing fatal seizures.

The Viral Immunology article also mentioned an Israeli vaccine, which we discussed in March 2000. This vaccine remains experimental and has only been used in geese. Because it uses live viruses, we believe it has a slim chance of being approved for any type of wide use here.

If there’s potential treatment for West Nile, our money is on a study described in a 1992 Russian paper using the antibiotics gentamicin and kanamycin. The efficacy of gentamicin was higher than that of kanamycin. Although this study was not done in horses, it did use live animals and an antibiotic that has been safely used in horses for a number of years — gentamicin. Gentamicin use was also supported by another paper, done by researchers in Israel, that describes the antiviral activity obtained by linking the amino acid arginine to gentamicin. However, this compound is not commercially available as yet.

It appears that gentamicin (or gentamicin-arginine) is much closer to being a viable treatment option for West Nile than ribavirin or the Israeli vaccine. Still, your best bet remains preventative measures: boosting your horse’s immune system and initiating strong anti-mosquito measures (see March 2000).

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FEI Tops IOC With Women Reps
A recent study shows the FEI has a higher percentage of women in its administration than any other agency in the International Olympic Committee. The IOC recommended in 1996 that all its agencies have at least 10% female representatives in their administrations by 2000. The study showed that only a third of the international sport federations and about 80 national Olympic committees met that figure. The FEI topped that goal with 33%, followed by hockey (30%), rowing (29%) and figure skating (27%).

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“World’s Greatest Horseman” Winner Will Get $50,000
The World’s Greatest Horseman contest, a competition that combines rein work, herd work, cow fence work and steer stopping over three days, will be held June 14-16 in Guthrie, Okla.

The event has a purse of $175,000, and the winner will take home $50,000. This is the third year for the event, which is run by the National Reined Cow Horse Assn. It is open to horses of any age. For information, visit www.nrcha.com.

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Colorado Horse Park Planned
Plans for a new Colorado Horse Park in Parker were approved in late December. The not-for-profit horse park will be formed from 384 acres carved from High Prairie Farms, owned by Kelen Krieble, who negotiated for it over the last five years. The deal also includes $2 million each from the Douglas County Open Space Fund and from Terrabrook Developers.

The facility will include the current High Prairie Farms cross-country course, show arenas and show barns, with the possibility of adding another 1,700 acres. The farm’s original 82 acres that include its grand prix arena, boarding and training facility and offices will remain as High Prairie Farms Equestrian Center.

Colorado has not offered financial help but approved it as “smart growth” that can be of economic benefit to the community while also providing a buffer of open space.

Plans for the horse park include a Museum of the Western Horse, a Living History Museum, indoor performance complex, research centers for horse health, model horse museum and wildlife refuge.

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Horses On The Air
HorseTV was launched on Jan. 1 as part of RFD-TV, a network to serve the needs of rural America that is being carried on the DISH Network satellite TV system. HorseTV will have 50 weekly of instructional, veterinary, documentary, and event programs. RFD-TV broadcasts originating in Dallas, Texas.

The Horse-TV website also has an extensive selection of videos and books (www.Horse-TV.com).

In addition, two radio shows heard primarily in the Midwest have been added to a growing number of equine-related electronic media.

“The Horseman’s Radio Weekly” with Jim Campbell is broadcast mainly in Texas and central portions of the country (www.hrwnet.com). “Horseman’s Corner” can be heard Monday through Friday in the Midwest with a Saturday hour-long version (www.horsemanscorner.com).

These shows join “The Horse Show With Rick Lamb,” which is broadcast on mainly rural radio stations (www.thehorseshow.com). All three shows also have versions on their individual websites.

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Possible American Equestrian Games
The AHSA will be exploring the feasibility of a new multi-discipline competition to be held annually, possibly as soon as 2002, to be called the American Equestrian Games and Championships. The event may lead up to a bid to host the 2006 World Equestrian Games at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky.

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Performance Horse Registry On Line
The Performance Horse Registry is now on the web at www.ahsa.org as a tool to promote sport-horse breeding, performance and pedigree. The database will allow people who are making purchase and breeding decisions to follow certain bloodlines. Award standings will be available on the website throughout the competition year.

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Merger Won’t Affect Purina Feeds
The $10.3 billion merger of Nestle and Ralston Purina may make it the largest pet-food company in the world, but it won’t affect the familiar Purina horse feeds.

Nestle manufactures the Friskies line of pet food, while Ralston Purina primarily makes dog and cat food. Purina horse and livestock feeds, however, are manufactured by Purina Mills, which was sold over a decade ago by Ralston Purina. That sale allowed both Purina Mills and Ralston Purina to use the trademarks “Purina” and checkerboard logo.

Purina Mills has 4,200 dealers and in 1998 also opened 15 of its own feed stores, called America’s Country Store. The chain now has over 40 stores that are aimed at the “ruralpolitan market,” areas of high horse ownership where people have a country lifestyle on three-to-five acres (800/632-2239 or www.purina-mills.com).

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Brits To Ban Fox Hunting
The British House of Commons voted 387-174 in January to ban the traditional sport of hunting foxes with hounds. The unelected House of Lords can delay but not decide legislation, so some version of the bill will proba bly become law although possibly not until next year. The commission that studied fox hunting determined that 55,000 people take part and that the hunts generate 8,000 jobs. The legislation also outlaws hunting rabbits, deer and mink with packs of dogs.