Syndrome Problems Continue in Ohio; Spread to West Virginia

By Sarah E. Hogwood

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.

In addition to reports from Morgan and Highland counties, other areas in Ohio with confirmed problems include Athens, Gallia, Meigs, and Jackson counties, according to Dr. Grant Frazer, associate professor at Ohio State University. However, the problems don't stop at the state line. One veterinarian reported a number of "red bag" abortions in Mason, Putnam, Cabel, and Jackson counties in West Virginia. Frazer believes it is an Ohio River Valley problem.

Within the past two weeks, one veterinarian has seen more than 20 cases of late-term abortion from mares within a couple of weeks of foaling. In addition, she has seen foals that seem healthy at birth, then develop problems within 24-48 hours.

One pony breeder in Athens County, Ohio, moved her pregnant mares on to pasture in early April. Within the past two weeks, she lost 13 foals. The most recent abortion was on May 12. Most of the abortions occurred in the pasture with the foal still inside the red fetal membrane. The red fetal membrane was described to Frazer as very thickened with fluid-filled tissue (edematous).