Horse Health

Health news, veterinary advice, and educational tools to keep your horse healthy provided by The Horse

The Blood-Horse to Support MRLS Research

In an effort to show support for industry horse owners and breeders, The Blood-Horse, Inc., announced yesterday it will contribute a portion of its advertising revenues for the remainder of 2001 to the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, to support further research into the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome that is currently plaguing the Thoroughbred industry.

Australia Lifts Ban on European Imports

The Australian Government has lifted its temporary suspension on the movement of Thoroughbreds to Australia from Europe. The official announcement came May 17 through Biosecurity Australia, a department of the Government agency covering agriculture, fisheries and forestry. It means that Danehill and the other 36 stallions scheduled to shuttle to Australia in early August can proceed.

Where to Find the Mycotoxin Binder

Lexington, Ky., feed companies are busy filling orders for bags and buckets of mycotoxin binder from horse owners in 15 states throughout the East Coast and Canada. Here is a list of companies selling the binder and associated products.

European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Suggests Holding US Horses; No Ban

Charles Frank, the veterinary advisor to the United Kingdom Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that in a meeting earlier this week of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders that a statement was made to advise members not to re-import horses to Europe until a cause of the current health problems in Kentucky was identified. "The last thing we want is a ban," said Frank.

European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders Suggests Holding US Horses; No Ban

Charles Frank, the veterinary advisor to the United Kingdom Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said that in a meeting earlier this week of the European Federation of Thoroughbred Breeders that a statement was made to advise members not to re-import horses to Europe until a cause of the current health problems in Kentucky was identified. "The last thing we want is a ban," said Frank.

National City, Stonerside Make Research Donations

National City Bank of Kentucky donated $25,000 specifically to support research into the cause and prevention of the equine loss syndrome seen in Central Kentucky and several other states since late April. Also, Robert and Janice McNaris' Stonerside Stable announced that 1% of the purses earned by Congaree in any remaining Triple Crown races and in this year's Breeders' Cup will go to the same research.

An Eye on the Weather

Tom Priddy, a meteorologist at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, put together data on the weather this spring that is thought to have caused the current equine problems associated with pasture.

New Recommendations Issued on Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome

Based on scientific and diagnostic results available to date, the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners has issued the following suggestions for veterinarians to discuss with their clients based on a valid veterinary-client-patient relationship. This is subject to change based on updates from scientific results.

Ohio Diagnostic Lab Requests Owners Submit Aborted Fetuses, Deceased Foals

As Ohio veterinarians try to understand and determine what might be affecting foals in the Ohio River Valley, the number of foals and fetuses available for testing by the diagnostic lab is no greater than normal. Sheila Grimes, DVM, PhD, Pathology Section Head for the Ohio Department of Agriculture's Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, recommends that horse owners submit aborted fetuses and deceased foals with the placenta for testing.

Federal Aid Not Currently Available; NTRA, AHC Begin Lobbying Efforts

Industry organizations have taken a proactive stand in the wake of the fetal loss syndrome that has gripped Central Kentucky farms in recent weeks. Tim Smith, commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, has been in contact with federal officials and is planning to spend most of Wednesday and Thursday morning in the nation's capital, meeting with members of Congress and staff to discuss the possibility of federal assistance for breeders who are being financially crippled by the health crisis. But Smith had some bad news about existing federal programs.

Farm Crisis

By Ray Paulick -- Politicians should look beyond the false image of the breeding industry to the rank-and-file horse farmers.

Ireland Relaxes Foot-And-Mouth Restrictions

The Republic of Ireland has lifted its prohibition on British horses that travel there in a move that should help both the breeding and racing industries. It appears British horses, previously restricted because of the foot-and-mouth outbreak, will be able to compete in the Irish One Thousand (Ire-I) and Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at the Curragh May 26-27.

Additional Information on Zearalenone

In the industry-wide meeting at Keeneland on Thursday, May 10, zearalenone, a kind of mycotoxin, was put forth as a possible cause of the recent rash of late-term stillbirths, critical foals, and early fetal loss. But while experts seem to be in agreement it is a good possibility that zearalenone in particular is indicated, they aren't ruling out other possible causes or saying only that one mycotoxin is the sole instigator of illness. Whatever the cause, the effects are cumulative.

Explanation: Ergotism or Ergot Poisoning

At the industry-wide meeting on Thursday, May 10, Dr. Steve Jackson, an equine nutrition consultant and owner of Bluegrass Equine Nutrition, and Dr. Jimmy Henning, an extension forage specialist at the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture, both mentioned that ergot or alkaloid types of toxins were being sought in the testing of pastures. In discussing the situation further with Jackson on May 11, he said that Merck's Veterinary Manual had a good explanation of ergotism in other livestock.

Kentucky Veterinarian Seeing Increase in Laminitis Cases

Dr. Rhonda Rathgeber, a veterinarian with Hagyard-Davidson-McGee veterinary firm in Lexington, Ky., specializes in performance horse problems. She said in the past 10 days, she has seen "a lot of riding horses lame with an associated colitis (inflammation of the large or small colon). I've talked to one other vet who has seen the same thing," she said. It is unknown whether this increase in laminitis is associated with the other problems currently running through the horse industry and thought to be caused by mycotoxins.

Dr. Byars--Pericarditis Becoming More of a Problem

While the numbers are nowhere near those associated with early fetal loss and late gestation pregnancy loss, there is a pattern appearing with horses developing pericarditis (fluid in the sac around the heart), said Dr. Doug Byars, a specialist in internal medicine at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee's medicine unit in Lexington, Ky. At the industry meeting at Keeneland on Thursday, May 10, Byars reported that there had been 20 cases of pericarditis at Haygard's and Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in the past week.

Kentucky's Fields of Dreams Now Nightmares

The old-timers say Kentucky is horse country because of its soil. What's now growing on that soil could be the cause of a rash of late-term losses in foals, early embryonic death, pericarditis (fluid surrounding the heart), reduced growth rates in young horses, and other problems that might not yet have been recognized.

Researchers Unite to Search for Cause of Crisis

Over and over the refrain has been heard for the past two weeks--the horse industry is lucky to have the equine expertise concentrated in Central Kentucky, especially during this time of all-out war against an unknown killer. Dr. Roger Murphy, president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, opened the informational meeting the evening of May 10 with the statement: "I'm proud to be a part of an industry that can unify in the face of adversity."

Evidence Presented at Keeneland Suggests All Horses May Be at Risk

The foal loss syndromes facing Kentucky's pregnant mares might be just the start of a host of problems that could affect horses of all ages, breeds, sexes, and uses in Kentucky and other states. Whether you have a gelding that is on turn-out, a yearling, suckling, stallion, or non-pregnant mare, there could be problems brewing. This information and much more was brought to light at an open meeting at the Keeneland sale pavilion in Lexington, Ky., on the evening of May 10.

Preliminary Test Results Suggest Possible Causes, Preventative Measures

After testing numerous pasture samples for mycotoxins, endophytes, and other possible causes to the problems in Kentucky, tests have shown higher than expected levels of a mycotoxin called zearalenone, according to Dr. Steve Jackson, a consultant for Bluegrass Equine Nutrition. Jackson and other presenters stressed that zearalenone has not been pinpointed as the definitive cause to the problems.

Two Ohio Counties Experiencing Similar Syndromes

Now two counties in Ohio are seeing syndromes similar to those being presented in Kentucky, according to an update Thursday by Dr. Grant Frazer, associate professor at Ohio State University. Frazer said there is no way to make a confirmation that this is the same problem that Kentucky veterinarians and researchers are dealing with, since no definitive description of the problem has been narrowed down.

Florida Only State Requiring Special Permit for Kentucky Shippers

The Kentucky state veterinarian's office has fielded calls from all over the country regarding late term abortions and early foal loss in Kentucky mares, but Florida remains the only state to take action. The Sunshine State is requiring a special permit for horses shipping in from Kentucky. Dr. Don Notter, Kentucky state veterinarian, is recommending that anyone shipping a mare anywhere should contact the state veterinarian for their destination. He said restrictions and special permits could become required almost overnight.

Keeneland Info Session Goes to Video

The information session on late term abortions and early fetal loss conducted at the Keeneland sales pavilion Thursday will be available online at Keeneland's web site, www.keeneland.com, for the next 48 hours. In addition, Keeneland announced at the meeting that it will have a videotape of the session available early next week.

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