Equine abortions were down in Kentucky for the first time this year based on the latest weekly report from the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (LDDC). According to statistics released on Tuesday, 24 aborted fetuses were submitted to the center for examination during the fifth week of 2003 compared to 30 for the same period in 2002. However, the equine abortion rate for the entire year remains up from 2002, with 158 fetuses submitted compared to 129.
In a press conference at the University of Kentucky on Tuesday, Dr. Lenn Harrison, director of the LDDC, said scientists have found no evidence that mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS) caused the abortions. Leptospirosis caused five, but that number is not abnormally high, according to Harrison.
Scientists are not sure why there has been an increase in abortions, but horsemen may be submitting more fetuses to the LDDC because of their concern about MRLS, said another participant in the press conference, Dr. Bill Bernard of Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital. In addition, he said there are probably more mares foaling earlier this year than there were last year. However, the horse industry has no numbers readily available to support this theory.