Syndrome Problems Continue in Ohio; Spread to West Virginia

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).

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More