MRLS Monitoring Stepped Up, But No Problem Found

by Kimberly S. Herbert

Pathologists at the Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center in Lexington noticed that a few more fetal losses were being seen than was usual during August, September, and October. That prompted increased surveillance and reporting, and meetings by the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners committee that was formed during the mare reproductive loss syndrome crisis of 2001.

After a recent review of numbers for the past five years, it was determined there was a slight increase in the number of abortions during August, September, and October of this year, but it could be associated with the number of mares bred early this breeding season, said Dr. Bill Bernard, president of the KAEP and an internal medicine specialist at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

"We have decided there is not a problem that we can ascertain," Bernard said. "Any time we see a blip (in the numbers of abortions), we get together and talk about it."

Those included in the meetings are field practitioners, researchers, and pathologists.

"It's difficult to know the real reason, whether there are more mares here, more mares in foal early, or just more fetuses going to the lab than five years ago," Bernard said.

Dr. Neil Williams, a veterinarian and pathologist at the LDDC, said nothing out of the ordinary has been diagnosed in the fetuses that were examined.

"We don't know the number of mares bred," Williams said. "There are many possible reasons and factors that could account for the slight increase in fetuses submitted to the LDDC. It's good to ratchet up the surveillance and reporting, but our findings to this point don't suggest a new or consistent problem."