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      Causes of disease and death from birth to 12 months of age in the Thoroughbred horse in Ireland

      1 , , 2
      Irish Veterinary Journal
      BioMed Central
      foal, horse, infectious disease, morbidity, mortality, non-infectious disease, stillbirth

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          A retrospective study was carried out to investigate the causes of disease and death in a population of foals in Ireland during their first 12 months post partum. Foaling and veterinary records from 343 foals on four farms born between January 1, 2004 and May 30, 2008 were reviewed. Among 343 foals, 22 did not survive to 12 months of age. Over the five-year period, the incidence of stillbirth was 1.5% (5/343), mortality 5% (17/338) and overall morbidity was 88.5% (299/338). Morbidity was calculated to include all new conditions brought to the attention of the attending veterinary surgeon, no matter how minor. Of foals born alive: congenital abnormalities were the most common cause of death (35.3% 6/17 foals) followed by musculoskeletal trauma (5/17, 29.4%). Of 711 separate incidents of disease, 46.5% (331/711) were due to an infectious process, 25% (178/711) due to non-infectious musculoskeletal issues; and 14.9% (106/711) related to non-infectious gastrointestinal problems. Respiratory infection was the single most common disease accounting for 27.8% (178/711) of all disease incidents in this population. Findings from this study provide information regarding the causes and incidence of death and disease in the young Irish Thoroughbred population.

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          Causes of and farm management factors associated with disease and death in foals.

          A prospective study was conducted to describe the causes of and farm management factors associated with disease and death in a population of foals in Texas. Data from 2,468 foals at 167 farms were provided by veterinarians for all 12 months during 1991. Among 2,468 foals, 116 deaths were reported (4.7%). Pneumonia was the most commonly reported cause of death, followed by septicemia. When considered as a group, musculoskeletal disorders (traumatic, infectious, or deforming problems) represented the most common cause of all reported deaths. Daily risk of death was greatest during the first 7 days of life, and decreased with age. Risk and frequency of causes of death varied by age. Crude incident morbidity during the year was 27.4% (677/2,468). Respiratory disease was the most common cause of incident disease in the study population, followed by diarrhea. Risk of disease was greatest among < or = 7 days old, and decreased with age. Crude rate of incident of diarrhea was significantly lower among farms where foals were born on pasture, compared with that at farms where foals were born in stalls. The practice of assessing passive immunity was significantly associated with decreased morbidity from septicemia and pneumonia.
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            Causes of abortion, stillbirth, and perinatal death in horses: 3,527 cases (1986-1991).

            Pathology case records of 3,514 aborted fetuses, stillborn foals, or foals that died < 24 hours after birth and of 13 placentas from mares whose foals were weak or unthrifty at birth were reviewed to determine the cause of abortion, death, or illness. Fetoplacental infection caused by bacteria (n = 628), equine herpesvirus (143), fungi (61), or placentitis (351), in which an etiologic agent could not be defined, was the most common diagnosis. Complications of birth, including neonatal asphyxia, dystocia, or trauma, were the second most common cause of mortality and were diagnosed in 19% of the cases (679). Other common diagnoses were placental edema or premature separation of placenta (249), development of twins (221), contracted foal syndrome (188), other congenital anomalies (160), and umbilical cord abnormalities (121). Less common conditions were placental villous atrophy or body pregnancy (81), fetal diarrhea syndrome (34), and neoplasms or miscellaneous conditions (26). A diagnosis was not established in 16% of the cases seen (585). The study revealed that leptospirosis (78) was an important cause of bacterial abortion in mares, and that infection by a nocardioform actinomycete (45) was an important cause of chronic placentitis.
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              A survey of equine abortion, stillbirth and neonatal death in the UK from 1988 to 1997.

              A detailed review of laboratory records for equine abortion is fundamental in establishing current disease trends and suggesting problems important for further research. To review the causes of abortion and neonatal death in equine diagnostic submissions to the Animal Health Trust over a 10 year period. The diagnoses in 1252 equine fetuses and neonatal foals were reviewed and analysed into categories. Problems associated with the umbilical cord, comprising umbilical cord torsion and the long cord/cervical pole ischaemia disorder, were the most common diagnoses (38.8%: 35.7% umbilical cord torsion and 3.1% long cord/cervical pole ischaemia disorder). Other noninfective causes of abortion or neonatal death included twinning (6.0%), intrapartum stillbirth (13.7%) and placentitis, associated with infection (9.8%). E. coli and Streptococcus zooepidemicus were the most common bacteria isolated. Neonatal infections not associated with placentitis accounted for 3.2% of incidents; and infections with EHV-1 or EHV-4 for 6.5%. Definitive diagnosis of equine abortion is possible in the majority of cases where the whole fetus and placenta are submitted for examination. Given the high incidence of umbilical cord torsion and related problems as causes of abortion in UK broodmares, more research on factors determining umbilical cord length and risk of torsion is essential.

                Author and article information

                Ir Vet J
                Irish Veterinary Journal
                BioMed Central
                1 January 2010
                : 63
                : 1
                : 37-43
                [1 ]Phoenix Equine Group, Grey Abbey Road, Co. Kildare, Ireland
                [2 ]Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital, The Curragh, Co. Kildare, Ireland

                Veterinary medicine
                horse,mortality,non-infectious disease,stillbirth,foal,infectious disease,morbidity
                Veterinary medicine
                horse, mortality, non-infectious disease, stillbirth, foal, infectious disease, morbidity


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