Malignant Hyperthermia, or MH, is a hereditary muscular disease that mainly affects Quarter Horses and the breeds that are parent with Quarter Horses. Horses who suffer from MH might not display any of the symptoms of the disease under normal circumstance. These symptoms mainly appear when the horse is under great pressure, either from exercise or having done tough physical activity, or the stress of a show. Symptoms can also appear while the horse is under anesthesia.
The symptoms include an elevated body temperature, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, perspiration, and rigid muscles. They can appear suddenly, develop quickly, and if not treated immediately, the horse can die from this illness.
MH is due to the mutation of the RyR1 gene. This disease is transmitted through the dominant gene mode. The penetration of the disease is incomplete however. MH is therefore a major risk for horses. In fact, when the horse in question is destined for reproduction, it is crucial to run a genetic test in order to verify if the horse will transmit the MH disease to its descendants, even if MH is a rare disease. The test does not, however, determine how serious the disease is in the horse.
There is a way to do a genetic test of MH, and this can be done at any age. Just like any other genetic testing, this sort of test is very reliable. It can be done by taking a sample of the horse’s mane.
In order to reduce the risk of death while under anesthesia, there are types of medication that can be administered in order to decrease the severity of the symptoms, should they appear during a surgery.
The only way known to cure this illness is to administer Dantrolene, which is a muscle relaxant. It has helped greatly reduce the risk of death for horses who suffer from this disease, which is a great help to anyone who wishes to breed horses.
Photo credit: flickr.com
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