Renowned Equine Piroplasmosis Researcher Receives Inaugural AAEP Research Award

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Donald P. Knowles, DVM, PhD, DACVP, who devised and confirmed efficacy of imidocarb dipropionate as a treatment that eliminates Theileria equi from horses infected with equine piroplasmosis, is the inaugural recipient of the American Association of Equine Practitioners’ Research Award.

The AAEP Research Award recognizes an individual who has completed research that has or will make a significant impact on the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of equine disease. Knowles was honored Dec. 9 during the President’s Luncheon at the AAEP’s 60th Annual Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A 1982 graduate of the University of Illinois, Knowles is a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Pathology at the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine and research leader of the Animal Disease Research Unit of the United States Department of Agriculture. Since 2011, his research group has been included on six peer-reviewed publications related to equine piroplasmosis.

Following an outbreak of equine piroplasmosis on a Texas ranch in 2009, Knowles was involved with the emergency response to contain and eradicate the disease. As a result of this involvement, his research team helped to identify a new tick vector (Amblyomma cajennense) for equine piroplasmosis, developed a treatment to effectively eliminate one of the causative agents (Theileria equi) from infected horses, developed novel diagnostic techniques and characterized protozoal strains that may have previously eluded identification using existing diagnostic tests.

The results of this research will have a significant health benefit for infected horses and potentially mitigate the spread of this foreign animal disease within the U.S., decreasing the need for restrictions on horse movement and avoiding a subsequent loss of business continuity. It will also provide veterinarians with the tools to diagnose and manage natural piroplasmosis infection.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1954 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than five million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.