Window of opportunity

By Connie Orcutt • Published: March 1st, 2013
Category: Animal Airwaves

Foals face a slim window of opportunity at birth to thrive. They’re prone to sepsis, bacterial infection of the blood. It’s the most common cause of death in newborn foals. Protective antibodies in a mare’s first milk, or colostrum (cō-LOSS-trum), are only absorbed for 24 hours after birth, so immediate nursing is vital.

To offer top care to foals, board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialists work around the clock at the University of Florida’s Equine Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or ENICU [ee-NICK-you]. Divided stalls let foals undergo treatment with mom close by. On any given day, a septic foal may receive plasma or antibiotics intravenously, while another that fails to nurse may have a stomach tube placed for nutrition delivery. Yet another with pneumonia may breathe easier on oxygen flowing through a nasal tube.

In short, the ENICU widens a foal’s window of opportunity for survival.