The University of Kentucky is continuing to post information on its web site, including interviews with local Thoroughbred farm managers.
An update from the UK College of Agriculture regarding progress of the investigation into the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has assured by the Florida State Veterinarian that there is no ban on the entry of Kentucky-grown hay into the state of Florida.
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 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.
Dr. Doug Byars, head of the medicine unit at Hagyard-Davidson-McGee in Lexington, Ky., said his clinic alone has seen about 40 cases of pericarditis (fluid in the sac around the heart) in the past two weeks.
Because of recent recommendations to add probiotics to the feed of at-risk animals, Hallway has created Mare-Guard Plus that contains probiotics.
As of noon May 17, the Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center had received nine additional aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals (four early-term and five late-term) for diagnostic testing/evaluation. The total received since April 28, 2001, is 486.
There is increasing evidence indicating that molds and mycotoxins are involved in the syndromes in Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia this spring.
As of noon May 16, the Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center had received nine additional aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals (five early-term and four late-term) for diagnostic testing/evaluation. The total received since April 28, 2001, is 477.
The latest information regarding what has now been named "Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome" (MRLS) occurring in Kentucky's equine population.
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.
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.
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.
The good news is that the federal government doesn't have to be in Kentucky or any other state because of the current spring syndromes taking place in the horse populations. They would be required to investigate if there was any indication that an infectious or contagious disease process was at work.
As of noon May 15, the Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center had received 26 additional aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals (18 late-term and eight early-term) for diagnostic testing/evaluation. The total received since April 28, 2001, is 468.
It might not be possible to gauge the extent of the fetal loss syndrome problem in Ohio since pleasure horse owners might not pay for the cost of testing on dead fetuses and foals presented to the diagnostic lab. However, anecdotal reports support evidence that veterinarians and breeders in Ohio are seeing an abnormal number of problems.
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.
By Ray Paulick -- Politicians should look beyond the false image of the breeding industry to the rank-and-file horse farmers.
Dr. Claire Latimer is a specialist in veterinary ophthalmology, the study of animal eyes. Since May 1, she has seen a surprising increase of eye problems in horses in Central Kentucky that fall into two distinct groups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kentucky's entire delegation of U.S. Senators and Congressmen has written a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman alerting her of the foal/fetal loss syndrome in Kentucky and asking for assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
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.
As the breeding season winds to a close, you expect to see fewer foals being born. Therefore, there are fewer chances for the current syndrome to affect late-gestation mares. It also seems, however, that the loss of late-term gestations--and early fetal loss--could be slowing overall.
Hunter Valley Thoroughbred breeders are increasingly concerned regarding a continuing ban on Thoroughbred imports from Europe imposed by the Australian quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) as a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Europe.
Following is the text of the presentation by Dr. Tom Riddle, of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky., at Thursday's Late Term Abortions and Early Fetal Loss Syndrome information session at Keeneland. Riddle was the first veterinarian to focus on the early fetal loss problem
A guide to some of the technical or scientific terms being used to describe the current foal/fetal loss syndrome
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.
Pericarditis, a scary-sounding word, is a killer in the current situation of equine illness that first manifested itself in foal loss, and now is causing problems in horses of all ages and sexes.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
So far it looks as if many Kentucky breeding sheds will stay open as long as they have clients who want to book their mares...or until the stallions must head into quarantine for trips to Southern Hemisphere locations.
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.
While Kentucky horse farms are at the epicenter of the foal loss crisis, the problem is not contained to the Bluegrass region according to a Northern Ohio veterinarian.
The University of Kentucky Disease Diagnostic Center reported Thursday that a total of 386 aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals had been submitted for diagnostic testing/evaluation since the problem first arose late last month.
As of May 10, the states of Tennessee, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana seem to be clear of the problems facing Kentucky horse breeders.
By Sarah E. Hogwood
Simpsonville, Ky., is experiencing the same problems that are plaguing horse breeders in Lexington, according to William Rhoads, DVM, and Scott Bennett, DVM, of Equine Services Hospital.
Actually, the view from the field in Central Kentucky is rather lonely. There are acres and acres of fresh-mown--or being furiously mowed--pastures that are beginning to resemble putting greens. The recommendation is to cut the grass to hopefully reduce the amount of mycotoxins being ingested by mares--if in fact that is the cause of the current syndromes affecting pregnant mares. Managers and owners desperate for something to do that might help are taking all suggestions seriously. Veterinarians are pulling out all the stops treating at-risk mares with everything that seems logical. Researchers and scientists are busily taking samples and running tests to try and find answers.
Officials with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Animal Industry, reported early Thursday afternoon that in 2 1/2 days they have received applications for 71 permits for horse shipments from Kentucky to Florida. In the wake of the recent foal/fetal loss outbreak in Kentucky, the state of Florida enacted temporary regulations requiring all horses from the Bluegrass State be tracked through the issuance of a permit from the state's Commissioner of Agriculture.
As of noon today (May 9), the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center stated that a total of 371 aborted/stillborn fetuses had been submitted for diagnostic testing/evaluation since April 28, 2001. The total includes 25 submitted by noon on May 9, and 28 submitted May 8.
On Tuesday, May 8, notices were sent to each state veterinarian "to make sure they got factual information" about the current foal loss problems, said Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager with the Kentucky State Veterinarian's Office.
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