Fall Abortions in Kentucky

Pathologists at the Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center (LDDC) in Lexington noticed that a few more fetal losses were being seen than was usual during August, September, and October. That prompted increased surveillance and reporting, and meetings by the Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners (KAEP) committee that was formed during the mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS) crisis. After a recent review of numbers for the past five years, it was determined that yes, there was a slight increase in the number of abortions during August, September, and October of this year, but it could be associated with the number of mares bred early this breeding season, noted Bill Bernard, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, president of KAEP and an internal medicine specialist at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital.

“We have decided there is not a problem that we can ascertain,” said Bernard. “Any time we see a blip (in the numbers of abortions), we get together and talk about it.” Those included in the meetings are field practitioners, researchers, and pathologists.

“It’s difficult to know the real reason, whether there are more mares here, more mares in foal early, or just more fetuses going to the lab than five years ago,” added Bernard.

Neil Williams, DVM, PhD, a pathologist at the LDDC, said that nothing out of the ordinary has been diagnosed in the fetuses that were examined. “We don’t know the number of mares bred,” Williams explained. “There are many possible reasons and factors that could account for the slight increase in fetuses submitted to the LDDC.

“It’s good to ratchet up the surveillance and reporting,” he added, “but our findings to this point don’t suggest a new or consistent problem.”

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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