A survey concerning the equine fescue toxicosis malady

K. Anas, D. L. Cross, R. Poling, L. M. Redmond, C. E. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this research was to determine the scope of equine fescue toxicosis, current procedures to control the disease, and to gain veterinary insight to possible new therapies. A survey was developed with help from experts in the area of fescue toxicosis. From a list of members of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a sample was obtained by selecting large animal/equine veterinarians from states where fescue toxicosis is common. These states included: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. One-fifteenth of the veterinarians (515 total) were mailed questionnaires; 207 responded. Veterinarians were grouped into regions based on latitude. Region 1 included veterinarians practicing north of 39.0° latitude; Region 2 included veterinarians practicing between 36.5° and 39.0° latitude; and Region 3 included veterinarians practicing south of 36.5° latitude. A majority of horse pasture in the area of the survey is comprised of at least 50% fescue, with approximately 70% of the pasture being at least partially comprised of fescue. Almost 50% of the brood mares in the area of the survey are exposed to endophyte-infected fescue. Many gravid brood mares in the area of the survey were suffering from acute and subacute symptoms, with over 43% warranting some kind of management technique to prevent toxicity from occurring. A large majority of veterinarians in the area of the survey feel that fescue toxicosis is, to some level, a problem. Current management techniques can be tedious and expensive. New management techniques and/or therapies are needed to handle the problems associated with equine fescue toxicosis. A large majority of veterinarians in the area of the survey feel an effective drug therapy would be valuable in treating equine fescue toxicosis. If a drug therapy were developed, a daily feed additive or an oral gel would be the most popular method of dosing with veterinarians. As a result of trends noticed in the rates of equine fescue toxicosis in different areas, statistical analyses were conducted on data generated from this survey along regions that seemed to have different infection rates. There was no difference (P>0.05) in levels of fescue in pastures, mare exposure to the endophyte, and mare expression of acute or subacute symptoms between regions 2 and 3. There was a difference (P<0.05) between region 1 and regions 2 and 3 for all of the factors tested except for number of mares seen by veterinarians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-637
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Equine Veterinary Science
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1998


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