foals standing with mares
• QHN File Photo

Kentucky Researchers Identify Virus Associated With Increase in Foal Diarrhea

Researchers at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have preliminarily identified a novel Rotavirus associated with diarrhea in very young foals.

This virus could not be detected using current diagnostic tests for equine Rotavirus A and appears to be different than the virus strain used in the currently available commercial vaccine.

In March, officials in Kentucky’s Bluegrass region – home to some of the most prestigious Thoroughbred farms on the globe –  announced they had received increased reports from area farms of diarrhea in foals that were 2-7 days old. Utilizing funding from Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Foundation and The Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, as well as Thoroughbred farm Coolmore America, researchers at the University of Kentucky began investigating what was causing so many foals to become sick.

Efforts are underway to better characterize the virus and determine its role in the current outbreak of diarrheal disease. Additional investigations are also underway at UK to identify other possible causes, and researchers are sending out an epidemiological survey to farms to better understand the outbreak.

Both the Gluck Center and the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab recommend strict biosecurity protocols as the best protection strategy at this time.