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J Vet Diagn Invest. 1993 Oct;5(4):560-6.

Equine abortion and stillbirth in central Kentucky during 1988 and 1989 foaling seasons.

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Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40511.


Pathologic and microbiologic examinations were performed on 1,211 aborted equine fetuses, stillborn foals, and placentas from premature foals in central Kentucky during the 1988 and 1989 foaling seasons to determine the causes of reproductive loss in the mare. Placentitis (19.4%) and dystocia-perinatal asphyxia (19.5%) were the 2 most important causes of equine reproductive loss. The other causes (in decreasing order) were contracted foal syndrome and other congenital anomalies (8.5%), twinning (6.1%), improper separation of placenta (4.7%), torsion of umbilical cord (4.5%), placental edema (4.3%), equine herpesvirus abortion (3.3%), bacteremia (3.2%), fetal diarrhea (2.7%), other placental disorders (total of 6.0%), and miscellaneous causes (1.6%). A definitive diagnosis was not established in 16.9% of the cases submitted. Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Escherichia coli, Leptospira spp., and a nocardioform actinomycete were organisms most frequently associated with bacterial placentitis, and Aspergillus spp. was the fungus most often noted in mycotic placentitis. No viral placentitis was noticed in this series. Dystocia-perinatal asphyxia was mostly associated with large foals, maiden mares, unattended deliveries, and malpresentations. The results of this study indicate that in central Kentucky, the noninfectious causes of equine reproductive loss outnumber the infectious causes by an approximate ratio of 2:1, placental disorders are slightly more prevalent than nonplacental disorders, Leptospira spp. and a nocardioform actinomycete are 2 new important abortifacient bacteria in the mare, the occurrence of contracted foal syndrome is unusually frequent, the incidence of twin abortion has sharply declined, and torsion of the umbilical cord is an important cause of abortion in the mare.

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