Mar 3, 2011
Every year at this time we see a lot of mares either aborting or trying to abort. This appears to be a year that may set a record for nocardioform abortions. This situation can be heartbreaking for many owners. Also, the costs in terms of time and money are problematic. A foal lost late term means an entire breeding season is lost.
There are a great number of causes of equine abortion including twins, bacterial, fungal, viral, uterine insufficiency, etc. Sorting these causes out can be a frustrating and expensive endeavor, often with no definitive diagnosis.
Early signs of abortion include premature bagging up (udder development) and vulvar discharge. If the mare is diagnosed early and treated aggressively the foal can often be saved.
Prevention of equine abortion is not always possible but the incidence can be greatly reduced. Mares should be examined by ultrasound at 16 and 28 days of pregnancy to allow detection of twins. Pregnant mares should be vaccinated against rhinopneumonitis at 3, 5, 7 and 9 months of pregnancy to prevent abortion resulting from this devastating viral disease. Equine viral arteritis (EVA) may also be prevented by vaccination.
A mare with a history of late-term abortions is considered high risk and should be assessed differently than mares without previous problems. These mares and their fetuses can be followed monthly with ultrasound exams and lab work to detect placentitis or problems with fetal viability so that treatment may be initiated earlier.
If you suspect that your mare is high risk or is starting to abort, contact us immediately at Conley and Koontz Equine Hospital. This is a true emergency. We would be happy to help set up a program to insure your mare has the optimal chance of having a live and health foal.