Kentucky Horse Breeders: Nocardioform Placentitis Suspected in Fetus

Craig N. Carter, DVM PhD,?Director & Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (UKVDL) in Lexington, Kentucky issued a notice to area veterinarians today that the UKVDL received an equine fetus from a Bluegrass area farm. He explained that this particular fetus had been aborted some time on Wednesday, December 28 and that a nocardioform bacteria (Crossiella equi)?was identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

Aborted fetuses have many causes. One cause is an inflammation of the placenta, or birth sac, called placentitis. When tests reveal the presence of specific gram-positive bacteria in the remnants of the placenta, a diagnosis of nocardioform placentitis is given. (File photo of an aborted foal fetus courtesy of

The pathologist stated that the fetus and placenta showed placentitis (inflammation of the placenta) grossly.

Dr. Carter and the laboratory asked area veterinarians: “Please encourage your clients to submit all aborted fetuses and placentae to our laboratory for a full pathological and microbiological examination. Please call our general number (859 257 8283) if you have any questions regarding sample submission.”

The Kentucky Association of Equine Practitioners (KAEP) is circulating the notice.

The VDL documented a dramatic increase in equine abortions in the second half of 2010, when 19 cases of nocardioform placentitis were diagnosed out of 247 cases. There were no known cases of nocardioform placentitis in 2009, when 218 abortions were documented.

To learn more: Please read?What’s Killing Unborn?Foals in Kentucky, an article provided by the US Department of Agriculture when the cause of nocardioform placentitis was discovered ten years ago. The same questions are being asked today.

Photo courtesy of

Abortion statistics as reported in the University of Kentucky’s?Equine Abortion Increase Bulletin January, 2011.




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