Kentucky Plans Equine Reproductive Health Monitoring System

Kentucky's horse industry is proceeding with a plan to develop a computerized equine reproductive health monitoring system at the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (LDDC) after hearing and approving a proposal Monday from a Virginia-based epidemiologist.

"The early phases of the system should be in place in the next couple of months, but it will take more time to get it fully implemented," said Dr. Lenn Harrison, the director of the LDDC.

Inspired by the recent outbreaks of mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS), the project is a joint effort involving the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, and the University of Kentucky. The proposal they heard on Monday was presented by Dr. Francois Elvinger of Virginia Tech and involved the information-gathering process.

In the wake of that presentation, "we are putting together a group of people that he (Elvinger) can consult with, including veterinarians, some outside experts and specialists in equine pathology, some experts from the diagnostic center, and some farm managers," said Dr. Bill Bernard of the Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. "There will also be some computer consultation and software design involved. In addition, at least another staff position will be required at the diagnostic center because we will need someone to collect and enter the information. It's a very interesting project because it will be state of the art, and it will be unsurpassed in this country."

The monitoring system will help scientists detect diseases causing reproductive problems in horses earlier. Eventually, the system will be expanded to monitor a wide variety of other equine ailments, Bernard said.