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June 12, 2002


The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture is releasing today preliminary results from a collaborative project involving the departments of Entomology, Veterinary Science and the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center.  This is a follow-up trial to a project conducted in April, 2002.

The experiment involved 24 pregnant mares which were separated into three experimental treatment groups of eight each.  Treatments were applied while mares were in pens for 6 hours each day for 10 days, and pens for all three groups were physically separated. In the first group mares were exposed to eastern tent caterpillars (ETC) that had not been fed for approximately three weeks.  In the second group mares were exposed only to insects’ frass.  In the third group, called the control group, mares were handled identically to the experimental treatments and received no intentional exposure to ETC or frass. Mares were on pasture only, not hay.

In the first treatment with ETC, 3 of 8 mares had pregnancy loss.  In the second treatment with only frass, none have lost pregnancies.  In the control group receiving reduced exposure to ETC or frass, 1 of 8 mares had pregnancy failure.  The exposure of the mares to the treatments began May 18 and continued through May 27, 2002.  Monitoring of pregnancy status and other health observations will be made until June 27, 2002. Diagnostic tests and analyses of blood and tissue samples by researchers and the Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center are in progress.

It should be emphasized these results are preliminary, and should not be interpreted as ruling out frass or other possible causal factors related to MRLS.

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