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Ir Vet J. 2010 Jan 1;63(1):37-43. doi: 10.1186/2046-0481-63-1-37.

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

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Phoenix Equine Group, Grey Abbey Road, Co, Kildare, Ireland.


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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