Equine crisis crosses bluegrass borders

Article

Though on a much smaller scale, several of Kentucky's closest neighbors - Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia - have reported incidents that may be associated with the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS), which plagued Kentucky's mares and foals throughout April and May.

Though on a much smaller scale, several of Kentucky's closest neighbors - Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia - have reported incidents that may be associated with the Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS), which plagued Kentucky's mares and foals throughout April and May.

Indiana saw an increased number of fetal loss submissions concurrentwith the time Kentucky experienced a surge in losses, reports Dr. SandyNorman, director of the equine division at the Indiana State Veterinarian'soffice.

The increase in submissions may be directly linked to the publicity surroundingthe incidence in Kentucky and may or may not reflect a true link to MRLS,she says. Number of fetuses lost or the cause of loss in Indiana has notyet been determined.

In Ohio, suspect cases were mostly concentrated in the southeast cornerof the state, with one small pocket reported in Geauga, a northeast county.

Southeast Ohio appears to be a similar area where tent caterpillars werevery heavy, according to Dr. Walter Threlfall, professor and head of thedepartment of Theriogenology at Ohio State University.

"These caterpillars were in the water, in the feed buckets, in thehay and straw. Owners I have talked to said they were crawling up the sidewalksof their house, on their decks and porches," he says.

Threlfall believes the caterpillar (cyanogenic) theory holds "somecredibility," even though he has no clear-cut explanation as to howthey created the problem.

When Kentucky saw a surge in mares aborting their foals, Threlfall saysthe university also saw a surge in phone calls from concerned DVMs.

However, the Ohio diagnostic laboratory did not receive any increasednumber of fetuses, which Threlfall says "is a shame." Thus, thestate has little data upon which to investigate and extract any sort ofconclusive theory.

The lack of reporting to the laboratory may be an economic issue, saysDr. Grant Frazer, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicineat The Ohio State University. When he spoke with veterinarians, they indicatedtheir clients declined sending in samples to the diagnostic lab due to thecost of the testing - $50. (Testing in Kentucky is free.) The testing includesnecropsy, a bacterial culture, virologic testing and serologic testing.

Regardless of how many clients report losses, Threlfall says it is hardto determine which foal losses can actually be attributed to this particularsyndrome.

"One of the things that happens in a situation like this is anyfoal loss near term is blamed on this particular syndrome," he says."But we don't know which ones would've occurred anyway and which onesreally were associated with this, except for the environmental factors."

In other states, West Virginia has reported similar fetal loss submissions,but the state veterinarian's office reports that the cause of those deathsremains unknown and cannot yet conclusively be attributed to MRLS. Conversely,the offices of the Pennsylvania and Illinois Departments of Agriculturereport no incidences of fetal loss that are being attributed to the syndrome.

Related Videos
Related Content
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.