Mare Crisis: Recommendations From University of Florida on Shipping

A series of abortions has recently been reported in several farms in Central Kentucky. At this time, the cause of these abortions is not determined, but there is no evidence of infectious etiology. Based upon currently available information, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine offers the following recommendations for mares currently in Kentucky and due to be shipped back to Florida in the near future:

* The response to this outbreak should be rational with best decisions possible based upon the most current information available. Scientific information is still being gathered, while rumors are plentiful.

* The risk of transporting late-term pregant mares must be weighed with the risk of leaving pregnant mares in Kentucky. Late term mares are susceptible to complications associated with shipping.

* Any mare located on one of the premises where abortions have occurred should be observed for signs of impending abortion. If signs of impending abortion are observed (vaginal discharge, fever, agalactia, or evidence of fetal death on ultrasound), shipment should be delayed until the abortion occurs and veterinary assistance should be sought immediately. If abortion occurs, the fetus and placenta should be chilled and immediately submitted to the local diagnostic laboratory. Urine, blood samples, uterine culture, and endometrial biopsy should be collected from the mare for further analysis.

* Healthy mares currently in Kentucky and due to be shipped back to Florida can be considered for shipping using good management practices. Upon arrival, these mares should be isolated for at least 15 days. Daily monitoring for impending signs of abortion should be sought immediately. The fetus and placenta should be chilled and immediately submitted to the local diagnostic laboratory. Urine, blood samples, uterine culture and endometrial biopsy should be collected from the mare for further analysis.

* If the decision is made to transport mares from Kentucky back to Florida, an accredited veterinarian will be involved in completing required health certificates. The Florida State Veterinarian's office will be contacted to obtain permits for shipment of these mares. The purpose of these permits is to track mares coming from areas of abortion outbreaks into Florida.

These recommendations are based on the current status of our knowledge of this outbreak, as per communication with local authorities in Kentucky. Should new findings become available regarding the etiology of this outbreak, changes to these recommendations will be made as necessary, and the industry will be notified via the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association, and the Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers. --May 9, 2001

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