When To Test
Our experience with the long term trial we have conducted with Seamus Fahey suggests that there are three different testing regimes that may be of benefit:
Regular testing may be of benefit with some horses. This allows a regular monitoring profile to be built up on the horse and any change in the SAA status can be very quickly recognised, allowing intervention to take place at an early stage – especially important when you remember that SAA will often give an indication of a developing problem with the animal before there are any apparent clinical signs. This may be conducted on a weekly or even a twice weekly basis over a long or short term.
Pre-race testing: testing in the week or so prior to a potential race can give an indication of the horse’s immune system status; a high result or an increasing trend is an indication that the horse is not problem free and performance may be affected.
Stat Testing: if an animal appears off-colour, off its food or below par in terms of performance, SAA testing can give an indication of the status of its immune system and whether or not there is, for example, a sub-clinical infection developing.
Interpretation of Results
Our trial experience coupled with existing scientific information indicates that results can be interpreted as follows:
The “normal” range for horses is between 0 -20micrograms per ml of SAA.
As with most tests and most species there can be variations of “normal” within that range, however, our trial work indicates that the SAA results indicate:
Below 10micrograms per ml: there is unlikely to be a problem with the horse, although it is an idea to check again to ensure that the level is not rising.
Between 10 -20micrograms/ml: there is a potential problem with the horse: it is advised that the horse is re-tested at the first opportunity to ensure that the level does not continue to rise above the acceptable level. Many horses are able to “self-resolve” and the fact that the immune system is activated means that it is trying to resolve the problem it is being faced with. If this is effective then the level will not significantly rise and will then fall back, however if it continues to rise then the horse is still below par and is having to deal with a problem.
Above 20micrograms/ml: at this level the horse has a strong activation of the immune system indicating that there is an ongoing problem. Our work indicates that above this level then the performance of the horse would appear to be affected and it is unlikely to perform at its optimum level. Further monitoring and additional testing should be considered.
As with all analytical tests, results and their interpretation can vary between animals and it is advisable to seek the advice of a professionally qualified veterinarian.
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