Long-term assessment of horses and ponies post exposure to monensin sodium in commercial feed

K. J. Hughes, K. L. Hoffmann, D. R. Hodgson

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Reasons for performing study: Acute monensin intoxication in equids is well described; however, the long-term effects of sublethal intoxication and ability to return to previous use are less well understood. Long-term observations may allow improved estimation of prognosis in cases of sublethal intoxication.Objectives: To assess horses and ponies exposed to sublethal amounts of monensin for evidence of chronic sequelae and ability to return to prior/intended use.Methods: Twenty-nine horses and 8 ponies were assessed utilising serum biochemistry, treadmill exercise stress testing, electrocardiography, and pre- and post exercise echocardiography '6 weeks after ingestion of monensin-contaminated feed. Animals with evidence of monensin-induced cardiomyopathy were re-examined after a period of rest of '11 months. Follow-up information was obtained by owner telephone interview '52 months after exposure.Results: During resting echocardiography, 11 animals had reduced/low-normal left ventricular fractional shortening (FS); an increase in FS in 8 of these animals was measured '11 months later. Six animals had reduced or low-normal FS during post exercise echocardiography. Two horses had ventricular premature depolarisations during exercise. Follow-up information was available for 35 animals: 21 returned to athletic/reproductive use, 13 were retired immediately and one died. Mean FS increased significantly (P<0.001) between initial and second examination in 15 animals that underwent resting echocardiography on 2 occasions.Conclusions: Some equids exposed to sublethal doses of monensin may not develop permanent myocardial disease and a return to athletic/reproductive use is possible.Potential relevance: Exercise stress testing, echocardiography and electrocardiography may be useful for detection and monitoring of cardiac dysfunction in equids exposed to monensin and determining whether a return to athletic/reproductive use is possible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-52
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2009


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