In the wake of the deaths of 21 prized polo horses, the United States Polo Assn. says it will announce today plans to provide additional protections for its animals.The announcement is expected following today's USPA Board of Governor's meeting in Wellington. A spokeswoman for the organization did not provide any specifics of what is being considered, but there has been much discussion about the treatment of polo horses following the incident.
Quoting anonymous sources, La Nacion newspaper of Argentina reported Friday that the 21 Lechuza Caracas team horses scheduled to play in Sunday's polo match were injected with a lethal dose -- 10 times the intended amount -- of selenium, a trace mineral that is poisonous to horses in high doses. The newspaper reported that 0.5 mg/ml was prescribed but the compound actually contained 5 mg/ml.Selenium is essential to health but required only in small amounts, according to the National Institutes of Health. It is found in soil, seafood and some meats.
Franck's Pharmacy in Ocala has acknowledged "that a strength of an ingredient in the medication was incorrect" but would not provide additional information.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine and the Federal Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine declined to comment Friday, citing the pending investigation.Officials investigating the deaths said Thursday that they believed they had identified the chemical that caused the deaths but declined Friday to identify it.It's unclear at this point how the error occurred. The identity of the prescribing veterinarian has not been confirmed and the prescription has not been made public.
In a written statement Thursday, the Lechuza team said a Florida-licensed veterinarian wrote a prescription for a compounded substitute vitamin supplement containing vitamin B, potassium, magnesium and selenium: "Only the horses treated with the compound became sick and died within 3 hours of treatment. The horses that were not treated remain healthy and normal."The pharmacy's statement said that "on an order from a veterinarian, Franck's Pharmacy prepared medication that was used to treat the 21 horses."The injectable compound was a substitute for Biodyl, the team said, a vitamin-mineral mix that isn't approved for use in the United States.