The Project

The project is based at the University of Glasgow’s School of Veterinary Medicine. The funding for this important work has been generously provided by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) in the form of a three-year research scholarship, which started in September 2015.

The principle aim of the project is to assess the risk of equine piroplasmosis (EP) establishing in the UK and Ireland. Our goals include:

  • Assessing the current status of EP within the UK and Ireland and, where possible, investigating any instances of EP found in the course of the project. There will be a particular focus on cases where there is the suspicion that disease has been contracted within the UK or Ireland.
  • Reviewing the current prevalence of EP-competent tick species, and the likelihood of EP establishing as an endemic disease.
  • Investigating the genetic diversity of encroaching EP strains through the implementation of a reliable PCR-based typing system for the analysing parasite DNA. This genetic variation will be compared to samples from global collaborators to gain an insight into the geographical origin of the pathogen and the degree of endemic establishment.
  • Studying how disease disseminates within newly endemic areas, using cases encountered in the UK and Ireland, as well as samples and data provided by French collaborators. This data will be used to develop an epidemiological model of EP spread.
  • Evaluating the risks and avenues of EP introduction to the UK, with consideration to current and future strategies for EP prevention and control.