Florida Issues Permit Process Guidelines on Horses Travelling From Kentucky

In the wake of the outbreak of late-term fetal/foal deaths and near-term abortions in mares in Central Kentucky, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has issued guidelines for the equine industry on horses from Kentucky entering Florida. The guidelines require a permit to be obtained prior to shipment by veterinarians who issue Official Certificates of Veterinary Inspection. It also recommends to Florida farms that mares from Kentucky be kept isolated from other horses and their health be closely monitored. There has been no ban issued on shipment of horses from Kentucky to Florida.

The complete text of the statement from Terry L. Rhodes, Commissioner of Agriculture, follows:

Dear Equine Industry;

We have recently been made aware of a widespread syndrome of both early and late-term abortions occurring in mares residing in the state of Kentucky. The situation quoted from the Kentucky State Veterinarian's office is "at this time, though nothing has been ruled out, it would appear that the source of one or both of these events may be an environmental issue. We have not identified any agent (viral or bacterial) which would suggest this to be a contagious situation." In an effort to work with and protect Florida's equine industry, we are initiating the following permit process for horses entering Florida from Kentucky:

Permit Requirements

1) Veterinarians issuing Official Certificates of Veterinary Inspection (OCVI) for horses moving to Florida must call the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Division of Animal Industry at 850 410-0900 to obtain a permit. Questions will be asked to determine the exposed risk of the horse such as the purpose of the movement and if the horse has been located at an affected farm.

2) A completed copy of the OCVI must be faxed to the FDACS Division of Animal Industry at 850 410-0946.

3) The FDACS Division of Animal Industry will assign a permit number which must be noted on the OCVI prior to movement.

Because the diagnosis is unknown, we strongly encourage the receiving farm to practice good biosecurity measures in concert with their farm veterinarians. Practical measures would include isolating new arrivals to the farm, and observing the mares daily for any signs of illness, appetite suppression, or obvious signs of abortion. Veterinarians are encouraged to immediately report any abortions by mares arriving from Kentucky to this office by calling 850 410-0900.

Your cooperation is appreciated

Terry L. Rhodes
Commissioner of Agriculture

Leroy M. Coffman, DVM, Director Division of Animal Industry

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