AgriFutures™ Thoroughbred Horses Program researcher spotlight: Dr Martina Jelocnik


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Dr Martina Jelocnik

This April we’re shining the spotlight on Dr Martina Jelocnik, a researcher from the University of the Sunshine Coast. Dr Jelocnik is working to reduce pregnancy losses in Australia’s thoroughbred horses industry by revealing basic information on the epidemiology of the Chlamydia psittaci infection.

Why is this research project important?

Our recent study (in collaboration with the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Scone Equine group) has confirmed that Chlamydia psittaci infections in horses is higher than originally thought and not limited to New South Wales. This suggests that this problem may be widespread and not just a recent phenomenon. Research has revealed contact with birds are a key part of the issue however little else is known about equine chlamydiosis.

In this current AgriFutures Australia funded project, we aim to reduce pregnancy losses in Australia’s thoroughbred industry by revealing basic information on the epidemiology of this disease, focussing on two key aspects of this disease, the C. psittaciinfected mare and the potential avian reservoirs of C. psittaci infection.

What inspires you to work in the thoroughbred horse industry?

Chlamydial infections in horses cause high mortality and also pose a risk to breeders, stud owners and others involved in the industry. I’m driven to understand the epidemiology (where, when and how) of chlamydial infections to safeguard both animals and public health and implement disease management strategies.

Additionally, the inadequate laborious and costly detection tests further challenge efforts to manage and rapidly treat infected hosts. The ability to provide rapid detection of infections is critical to avoid morbidity and mortality. My research provides a nexus between state veterinary laboratories, researchers, veterinarians and horse breeders to form a C. psittaci “One Health” platform to unify efforts in the management of this emerging pathogen.

Tell us something that the average person would not know about you.

I am a languages enthusiast (fluent Serbian-Croatian and Macedonian; intermediate Spanish; and beginner Italian). I am also a keen badminton player!

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