It’s May, and we all know what happens in May. EGS happens in May.

Incoming via Polo Times:

Grass Sickness cases show a spike in May.
Polo ponies that are kept out at grass could be affected this spring by Equine Grass Sickness.

Yep. EGS = Equine Grass Sickness: a sickness of equines that is caused by guess what?

The main risk factor for grass sickness, as the name may suggest, is grass.

Thanks wikipedia. No Jimmy, I’m not donating for stuff like this.

I’m not into ponies and horses (those allegations never even went to court), but I am into microbiology and this does have a microbiological side because the sickness is believed to be caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum. Yes, what’s killing horses left, right and centre is the same stuff Helen Zille injects into her face.

And it is killing horses. Almost invariably. Let’s look at the mortality rates for a few human diseases:

Influenza A (and by this, I mean actual Influenza, not “‘flu”) kills about 0.1% of people who get it.
Bubonic plague (the “Black Death”) kills about 5% of those it infects.
Mortality in those affected by the recent West African Ebola Epidemic was around 53% (although, it’s complicated).

EGS kills 95% of the horses that get it. Ninety-five!

I’m pretty happy that I’m not a horse right now. Or… in fact… ever.

Brilliantly, according to Polo Times, one of the best ways to limit the chances of your equine getting EGS is not letting your equine eat grass. Who knew? (I bet wikipedia knew.)

PT is equally insightful in their “What to look out for” section on EGS:

  • Peracute: The horse is found dead in the field having presumably ingested large amounts of the bacteria.

That’s hugely helpful. I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for that. Thanks.

Anyway, if you have horses (and I suspect this is mainly aimed at the Northern hemisphere), then apparently it’s well worth your while to be careful what you let them eat in the Springtime.

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