Abortion of virologically negative foetuses following experimental challenge of pregnant pony mares with Equid herpesvirus 1



From 1988 to 1991, 51 pregnant pony mares were challenged intranasally or by aerosol with an isolate of EHV-1 (AB4) originally recovered from a quadriplegic mare. This resulted in 32 abortions, occurring from 9 to 29 days after infection. In 14 of the early abortions (Days 9–14), EHV-1 was not demonstrated in the foetal tissues by virus isolation or immunostaining despite no other non-viral cause for the abortion being evident. Application of the polymerase chain reaction to foetal tissues from 9 of these cases also proved negative. One of the 14 mares was destroyed immediately after abortion, and post-mortem examination revealed severe and widespread vasculitis, thrombosis and secondary ischaemic damage in the endometrium with replication of EHV-1 in endothelial cells. These findings suggest that EHV-1 abortion can occur due to endometrial damage without the establishment of a foetal infection.