A Retrospective Evaluation of the Causes of Death of 448 Insured French Horses in 1995

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Epidemiological studies should allow comparisons to be made of the prevalence of disease in populations from different countries, but the population characteristics and health problems in French horses are not well established. We have conducted a retrospective evaluation of the causes of death and vital characteristics of insured horses in France for the year 1995, with a view to comparison with published data from other countries.

Files on 448 deceased horses were provided by nine insurance companies. Most of the animals were used for breeding (60%), followed by leisure (20%), eventing and racing (10% each). Physical characteristics were associated significantly with occupational categories. The overall mortality rate was 2.47%, and was due, in decreasing order, to foaling (24%), colic (21%) or locomotor (21%), cardiovascular (9%), neurological (8%), respiratory (5%) or infectious (4%) disease. Infectious disease was more frequent in younger animals (p<0.05) and locomotor disease in racehorses (p<0.01). Horses aged over 15 years had a lower incidence of colic (p<0.05). The cause of death was not significantly linked to breed, insurance value or season. Despite some selection bias, the study provides useful information about mortality in the French equine population.

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