Hypocalcemia, or low calcium concentrations in blood, can be due to a wide variety of causes. Hypocalcemia impairs maneuverability of limbs and weakens bones. Severe hypocalcemia may also result in seizures, muscle fasciculations, ileus, tachycardia, synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, and ataxia. In horses, many cases of hypocalcemia are due to hypoparathyroidism or sepsis. However, there appears to be an inherited form of hypocalcemia in Thoroughbred foals for which the cause has not yet been determined. It is hypothesized that idiopathic hypocalcemia in Thoroughbred foals is due to a genetic mutation. Currently, this idiopathic disease has only been identified in Thoroughbreds. All clinically affected foals die or are euthanized due to the severity of this disorder. In a joint effort with Dr. Gary Magdesian, our lab is currently investigating a potential genetic mutation responsible for idiopathic hypocalcemia of Thoroughbred foals.
Are you concerned that your foal may have Idiopathic Hypocalcemia? Contact our lab for more information on how you can aid in equine genetic research.