Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome Timeline (UPDATED)

Compiled by Sarah Hogwood
and Debbie Tuska

April 7--Temperature high in Lexington 84 degrees; 23 degrees above normal.

April 17--Temperature low in Lexington 29 degrees; 19 degrees below normal.

April 18--Temperature low in Lexington 28 degrees; 14 degrees below normal.

April 23--Temperature high in Lexington 82 degrees; 16 degrees above normal.

April 23--First suspected case of early abortion (mare 60 days in foal).

April 24--Another suspected case of early abortion (mare 70 days in foal).

April 26--Dr. W. Thomas Riddle sees first two cases of what he identifies as early fetal loss syndrome at a farm in Jessamine County during fetal sexing exam.

April 27--Two more cases detected by Dr. Riddle on farm in Woodford County.

April 30--Dr. Riddle finds dead fetus in mare in Bourbon County. Talked to a Jessamine County vet who found several more mares with either dead fetuses or with live fetuses surrounded by a cloudy fluid.

May 1--Dr. Riddle finds three more cases. Contacted Dr. Neil Williams at the University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to alert him of incoming fetuses and serums from the mares and alert Dr. Roberta Dwyer of the Gluck Equine Research Center.

May 2--Dr. Dwyer and Dr. David Powell of the Gluck Center visit two farms experiencing problems.

May 3--A meeting was called with veterinarians and research colleagues at the University of Kentucky to help identify the problem and determine what samples needed to be taken to begin an investigation.

May 4-- Hagyard-Davidson-McGee admits 14 "red bag" foals to Lexington-area clinic.

May 5--Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center receives the highest number of dead foals/fetal samples, with 73.

May 5 -- Horse transportation companies begin receiving unusually large number of calls from owners/breeders seeking to move pregnant mares out of state.

May 6--An informational fax was sent to area veterinarians with what limited information was available.

May 7--Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club distributes questionnaire prepared by University of Kentucky's Department of Veterinary Science to be returned by morning of Wednesday, May 9.

May 7--Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club and Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners announce joint meeting to be held Thursday, May 10, at Keeneland sales pavilion to discuss events and results of survey.

May 7--A meeting was held at the Gluck Center with a wide array of specialists, such as pasture management consultants, to help identify areas of pasture chemistry and possible toxic agents that could be investigated.

May 7-- University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center announces it has received 318 aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals for evaluation since April 28.

May 7-- Dr. Powell receives unconfirmed reports of a similar syndrome in at least two other states north of Kentucky.

May 8--Thoroughbred industry leaders, veterinarians, researchers, and farm managers meet with media at Gluck Equine Research Center for a press briefing on current fetal/foal loss syndrome.

May 8--University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center announces it has received 346 aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals for evaluation since April 28.

May 8--Dr. David Powell involved in a series of meetings with breeders, veterinarians, and pasture management specialists.

May 8--Florida Department of Agriculture institutes emergency permit process guidelines for horses traveling from Kentucky.

May 8--One of the most probable causes of fetal loss/abortion syndrome identified as mycotoxins in pastures. Was suggested to use mycotoxin binder--produced as a feed additive for horses--to offer first preventative treatment. Lee Hall of Farmers Feed Mill/Hallway Feeds began manufacturing feed supplement that became available on this day. Other feed manufacturers followed suit.

May 9--Equine practitioner in Morgan County, Ohio, suspects five cases of red bag delivery within past week, plus 10 cases of pregnant mares that are now empty.

May 9--University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center reports 371 aborted/stillborn fetuses have been submitted for testing/evaluation since April 28.

May 10--A delegation of Kentucky's U.S. Senate and House members (Sen. Mitch McConnell and Reps. Ed Whitfield and Ernie Fletcher) send letter to Ann M. Veneman, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Secretary of Agriculture, alert her to the problem and ask for possible assistance from the federal agency.

May 10--Dr. Roger Murphy, private practitioner and president of the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association and Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners, reports that in his practice there has been 38% early fetal loss compared to 10-12% in normal years. He said the late gestation foal loss is about 10%, compared to 4-5% in normal years. Reports from individual farms in the area range from no loss to 100% early fetal loss.

May 10--Farm managers and veterinarians are seeing unexplained fevers in yearlings and foals, raising the question of whether the syndrome is affecting other ages of horses.

May 10--Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club and the University of Kentucky hold meeting to discuss situation. Foal loss syndrome might be start of a host of problems that could affect horses of all ages, breeds, sexes, and uses in Kentucky and other states, reports panel of experts.

May 10-- University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center reports 386 aborted/stillborn fetuses have been submitted for testing/evaluation since April 28.

May 10--Dr. Roberta Dwyer presents results of survey sent to 270 farm managers, 159 of which responded by the May 9 deadline. Of the 3,294 mares fitting the questionnaire criteria of having been checked in foal at 42 days, only 2,616 were still in foal on May 8, a loss rate of 21%.

May 10--Dr. Steve Jackson reports on preliminary test results on samples of pasture to test for mycotoxins, endophytes, and other possible causes to the problem. Tests show a higher than expected level of the mycotoxin zearalenone. Dr. Doug Byars of Haygard-Davidson-McGee veterinary firm says traces of zearalenon have been found in urine of affected mares.

May 10--Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Animal Industry reports requests for 71 application permits for horse shipments from Kentucky to Florida. The permit process went into effect May 8.

May 10--Transportation companies report they have been extremely busy since weekend of May 5-6.

May 10--Two Ohio counties experiencing similar syndromes according to Dr. Grant Frazer of The Ohio State University.

May 10--Pericarditis (fluid in pericardial membrane surrounding the heart) causing problems in horses of all ages and sexes. Twenty cases have been reported from Hagyard-Davidson-McGee and Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital.

May 10--Representatives of several farms said their breeding shed operations would consider going beyond the traditional July 3 closing date and possibly into early August.

May 10--Northern Ohio vet Dr. Richard Novak attends meeting at Keeneland. Reports that he began noticing problems with foaling mares the last week of April.

May 10 -- Report that farms in Simpsonville, Ky., (near Louisville) are experiencing the same problems that are plaguing horse breeders in Lexington. Reports some farms having 80-90% loss of foals.

May 10--Many farms keeping in-foal mares in stalls. Acres and acres of pastures being mowed in attempt to reduce amount of mycotoxins being ingested by mares.

May 11--Two more cases of pericarditis reported.

May 11--Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center reports an additional 22 aborted/stillborn equine fetuses/foals for diagnostic testing/evaluation submitted that day (through noon). The total submitted since April 28, 2001, is 404.

Continued (includes May 12-25)

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