Cyanide Poisoning Now Linked to Kentucky Aborted Fetuses and Foals

Eastern Tent Caterpillar feeds on wild black cherry tree leaves which contain cyanide. The insects overwhelmed Kentucky trees and fields in the spring of 2001. Is there a connection to the aborted foal syndrome? Photograph courtesy University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
Eastern Tent Caterpillar feeds on wild black cherry tree leaves which contain cyanide. The insects overwhelmed Kentucky trees and fields in the spring of 2001. Is there a connection to the aborted foal syndrome? Photograph courtesy University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

News Update - May 24, 2001 Lexington, Kentucky - Tonight laboratory experts confirmed that liver enzymes which indicate cyanide poisoning were confirmed in pathology analyses of aborted fetuses and foals. The main suspect for the cyanide source remains the Eastern Tent Caterpillar combined with the cyanide in wild cherry tree leaves containing more cyanide than normal because of the freeze after record high temperatures in mid-April. Still unknown is exactly how the caterpillar cyanide gets into the pregnant mares. While scientists begin more tests on pasture grasses, Lexington horse breeders are going to cut down wild cherry trees near their pastures and spray the Tent Caterpillar moths before they lay eggs that would hatch next spring.

 

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