Date Published: 9 August 2010

Liverpool vets treat Amersham rescue horse

Health News from Liverpool, England (UK).

Veterinary scientists at the University of Liverpool will provide life-saving treatment for a five-year old horse rescued from squalid conditions at Spindle Farm in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.

‘Duke’ was one of more than 100 horses that were rescued from the farm in 2008 after a member of the public alerted the RSPCA to the living conditions at the premises. Officers found 28 dead horses and 84 others that were severely malnourished. Duke has since been recovering at the Horse Trust’s Home of Rest for Horses, but recently developed tumours on his eyelids that required immediate treatment.

The tumours, called sarcoids, are similar to skin cancers and are a common problem in horses causing extreme irritation and painful swellings. Duke will receive iridium wire treatment at the University’s Equine Hospital – the only centre in the UK to deliver the complex procedure.

Professor Derek Knottenbelt, from the Equine Hospital, explained:

Removing tumours surgically from the eyelids would be almost impossible because the scar tissue would leave the horse unable to blink. Instead we kill the diseased cells from within using iridium radiation treatment, where gamma radiation is delivered through wires inserted into the tumour. Although sarcoids don’t spread to internal organs like many other cancerous tumours, they can be severely debilitating and so it is important that they are treated quickly to ensure long-lasting recovery.”

The procedure was first pioneered at the University in the 1970s by Dr Geraint Wyn-Jones and Professor Barrie Edwards and since then horses have arrived at the hospital from all over the world to be treated for the disease.

Professor Knottenbelt added:

The treatment will be delivered over a period of ten days, during which we aim to eradicate the diseased cells to allow new healthy cells to grow in their place. The condition is very unpredictable, but we hope that Duke will make a good recovery.”

Duke will be treated at the University at no cost and will remain with the veterinary team for two weeks whilst he recovers from the procedure.

Source: Liverpool University .

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