Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Veterinary Science

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel K. Howe


Equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM) is a progressive neurological disease of horses caused by Sarcocystis neurona. Two projects were conducted to identify factors involved in the development of EPM. The first study explored a possible genetic susceptibility to EPM by attempting a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue from 24 definitively-positive EPM horses. DNA extracted from tissues older than 14 months was inadequate for SNP analysis on the Illumina Equine SNP50 BeadChip probably due to degradation and formalin cross-linking. Results were inconclusive as analysis was not possible with the small sample set. The second study evaluated an artificial infection method in creating a reliable equine EPM model. Five horses were injected intravenously at 4 time points with autologous blood incubated with 1,000,000S. neurona merozoites. Challenged horses progressively developed mild to moderate clinical signs and had detectable S. neurona serum antibodies on day 42 post challenge. Horses appeared to have produced a Th1 immune response and cleared the infection by the conclusion of the study on day 89. No histopathological evidence of S. neurona infection was found within central nervous system tissue. This artificial infection method was not effective in replicating the severe clinical EPM seen in natural infections.