Abortion in Horses: Incidence and Causes

Equine abortion remains a common issue, and both infectious and noninfectious causes are frequently responsible.
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abortion in horses
The loss of a developing fetus during pregnancy can be a frustrating, emotional, and costly experience for horse owners, farm workers, and veterinarians. | Photo: iStock

The loss of a developing fetus during pregnancy can be a frustrating, emotional, and costly experience for horse owners, farm workers, veterinarians, and the public. A thorough evaluation of the aborted fetoplacental unit (the fetus and placenta) by a veterinary pathologist can help determine the cause of abortion; identify new, unusual, or foreign causes of fetal loss; rule out infectious agent involvement; and aid in the epidemiologic monitoring of abortifacients (factors that can result in abortion).

A two-year review of equine abortions, from the 2016 and 2017 breeding seasons, was conducted at the University of Kentucky (UK) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to evaluate current abortion trends.

Dates listed below indicate data for the respective breeding season, not calendar year. A total of 898 cases of equine abortion, 570 from 2016 and 328 from 2017, were evaluated

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