What is Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT)?
At birth, the newborn foal lacks protective immunoglobulins (disease-fighting proteins) so is defenceless against infection by bacteria or viruses. The neonate is therefore dependent upon the passive transfer of immunoglobulins in the mare’s colostrum.
Foals which fail receive these antibodies, or receive inadequate levels of these antibodies are at high risk of life-threatening illness. Approximately 25% of foals experience some degree of FPT. These foals are often weak or “doughy”.
What can cause FPT?
A variety of situations can lead to FPT, including
- Poor quality colostrum from the mare (common in very young and very old mares, but some mares produce poor colostrum throughout their breeding lives)
- Loss of colostrum through premature lactation
- Maternal infection
- Neglect or rejection of the foal by the mare
- Death of the mare
- Premature or traumatic birth
How do we identify and treat FPT?
Ideally all foals would be immunoglobulin tested with the Snap IgG test between 8 and 24 hrs after birth, however, the distances involved in our practice mean this is not always possible. Foals diagnosed with low levels of globulins are treated with Equiplas, a plasma product rich in specific immunoglobulins.
Sick foals often deteriorate rapidly if left untreated, but with early, appropriate intervention they can stage a remarkable recovery.