At the 100-year-old Chennai-based King Institute, one of the three centres in the country which manufactures anti-snake venom serum (asvs), the equine "production units' have currently been dropping dead with unfailing, distressing regularity. More than 40 horses have died over the past three months after consuming "some toxic chemicals'. This took the death toll of horses at the institute's stables this year to 70.
Post-mortem reports of the dead animals point to the presence of an organo-phosphorous compound (thiophosphate), 1ppm (parts per million), in their livers. Water samples collected from the horses' trough at the institute indicate the presence of 1 ppm of nitrite and 0.3 ppm of ammonia.
The Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University team which conducted the autopsies says the animals died primarily due to "intake" of thiophosphate.
While the cause behind the presence of nitrite could not be ascertained, there is a strong suspicion that the pesticide got into the fodder during its transportation.
Veterinarians also say that the cause...