Horses Killed By Cyanide

The first autopsy results on some of the over 500 miscarried thoroughbred fetuses in Kentucky have revealed features characteristic of cyanide poisoning. Cyanide causes victims to gasp for air, and Len Harrison, of the University of Kentucky, says that the foals? bodies and lungs were covered in small lesions, as if they struggled and attempted to breathe in the womb.

Researchers had been investigating a toxic fungus that mimics estrogen and which might have been present in the grass on which the foals? mothers were grazing. But Harrison has announced that a sample of Eastern Tent Caterpillars that live near the pastures has tested positive for Cyanide.
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The number of stillborn foals and spontaneously aborted fetuses from Kentucky mares has increased to a staggering rate this spring, in a mystery plague that has shot fear throughout the state?s $1.2 million thoroughbred horse industry. In April, 318 deaths were reported, in contrast to just 46 during the same period last year. Some farms have not reported any unusual miscarriages, while others have reported death rates of 10 to 75 percent.

?It?s got a lot of people spooked, no doubt about it,? says Steven Johnson, president of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers Club. ?I?ve talked to a lot of farm owners who aren?t going to sleep very much until they find out what is going on with their mares.? So far, tests for toxins or viruses have come back negative.
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