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EPM meets the Higgs particle

The hunt for the Higgs boson exemplifies our work with EPM. The Higgs is the last undiscovered particle predicted by the Standard Model (of particle physics). The long sought Higgs has no spin, no electric charge, no color change, and is infinitely short lived. The search for the Higgs boson involves proton-proton collisions resulting in decay in a ridiculously short time, to predictably many, less energetic particles.

The data processers figured out the kind of decay products, on average, that should be there if Higgs didn’t exist. The task is to compare their theoretical expectation to the actual data, searching for that unpredicted “bump” that might indicate the decay of Higgs bosons. It’s important that they gather enough data to ensure the observation isn’t a statistical fluctuation. Before declaring victory, they further analyze the data and determine if the characteristics are consistent with Higgs or perhaps some new unpredicted physics.

To find a Higgs that doesn’t exist long enough to observe directly as a particle they look for a “signature” in the decay products.  Not unlike what we are doing with EPM.

For many years the insistence that parasites are in the CNS making EPM unrewarding to treat, that antibodies to various parts of Sarcocystis have significance if they are not-specific, and inflammation was unworthy of investigation led researchers to find data that fit their theoretical expectations. However, the disease caused by S. neurona infections in horses has a molecular signature and we are defining that signature. We too have theories and expectations and we are careful to analyze our data to determine if the characteristics evaluated indicate we are on the right track. We discovered something unpredicted but long recognized by many field veterinarians. We discovered that undiagnosed inflammation is a larger issue in horses that can cloud the general view of EPM.

To parse the difference between diseases we have a specific protocol. We expect specific results and then gather the data to ensure the observations are statistically relevant. To some, our interpretations and advice are confusing and frustrating and that is because you look at one animal. We look at data from hundreds of similarly afflicted animals. We will explain our take on the process for each and every animal, and that is why our phone is always busy. Shoot us an email, we will answer you within 24 hours.

The bottom line is that we are evaluating at least two different conditions that look the same. We evaluate horses with clinical signs of disease that 1-have antibodies to SAG 1, 5, and 6 and 2-those that don’t have antibodies. The terms we use are EPM (reserved for horses that have or had antibody, prior to treatment) and IE (idiopathic encephalomyelitis—encephalomyelitis with an unknown etiology-but might have been EPM). Recent treatment with anti-protozoals can affect immune responses delaying antibody production—it depends on past history of the horse with the organism. Treatment responses can help us evaluate the horse—so please, give us your feedback. The more data we can analyze, the more “bumps” we can identify and investigate.

It is important to you because horses that are not responding to treatment probably don’t have EPM. The earlier you can recognize that the diagnosis is open (IE) the better the outcome of future treatment. We expect that EPM horses that are treated with licensed drugs will recover, on average 63% improve and some will need some additional therapy to improve more or to address relapses (relapse is ineffectively treated inflammation). Horses that get additional therapy may recover to the owner’s satisfaction and get back to use. Horses with IE treated with our approach will respond to treatment most of the time, additional treatment and monitoring will improve our record. There are no published treatments for IE, you need to call us for our approach to these horses. When the CRP is high and remains high after our treatment, we have several suggestions that are based on the treatment response and the underlying condition. The underlying condition has not been addressed if the CRP remains high.

The elusive Higgs particle can’t escape identification—and neither can the mystery surrounding EPM. As someone once penned, “EPM is a mystery wrapped in enigma”—but we think it isn’t for much longer.

Pathogenes thanks Hal Hollis, consulting physics prof and mystic for the input.

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