April 29, 2009

Overdose of mineral caused horses’ deaths

The recent deaths of 21 polo ponies in Florida was caused by an overdose of the mineral supplement selenium, Florida's state veterinarian says.

Veterinarian Thomas J. Holt says toxicology results indicate the horses had as much as 15 times the normal amount of selenium in their blood and an even higher concentration in their livers, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Wednesday

Officials say now that they know what killed the polo ponies, investigators must determine how the overdose occurred and who is to blame before considering possible criminal charges.

The next step is now an on-the-ground investigation of determining what happened, how this came to be, said Terence McElroy of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Last week a pharmacy in Ocala acknowledged there was too much selenium in the vitamin compound it mixed for the horses belonging to Venezuela's Lechuza Caracas polo team.

Selenium is a mineral essential for normal cell function and health in animals.