Ash Fork, Ariz., Information Line Established

A 1-800 information line was established today to aid Northern Arizona horse owners concerned by the recent death of several horses near Ash Fork, located west of Flagstaff off Interstate 40.

Since August 1998, several horses and a mule have died after displaying similar symptoms. As of Wednesday, Feb. 3, the deaths of 11 horses and a mule are believed related to this investigation.

The source of the illness has not been determined, although both federal and state animal health experts working on the cases have mostly eliminated infectious agents, heavy metals, and organophosphate pesticides as the cause.

Arizona Department of Agriculture investigators still believe the case is probably isolated to the Ash Fork geographic area and horse owners do not have reason to fear a horse-to-horse transmittal of whatever is causing the animal deaths there. Due to the clinical signs exhibited by the sick animals and the apparent absence of an infectious agent, the investigation has primarily focused on botulism or other toxic agents as the possible cause of the horse deaths.

Livestock owners are encouraged to monitor their animals for unusual behavior and to immediately contact their local veterinary practitioner. For more information, contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture, 602/542-0958.

For further assistance contact the Arizona Department of Agriculture Office of Communications, 1688 W. Adams St., Phoenix, Ariz. 85007. 602/542-0958.

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