th e NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE
Veterinary student Caty
Love, class of '11, is
shown with Dean Glen
Hoffsis at the sophomore
coating ceremony May 9.
For more photos, see p. 4.
UF pathologists, researchers play key role in determining cause of death
of polo ponies
P ostmortem testing conducted by University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine
pathologists and toxicologists on a group of prized polo horses that collapsed and
died April 19 in Wellington, Fla., drew international attention, with riveted members of
the public and the press wanting answers about the mysterious cause of death.
Blood and tissue samples were gathered from 15 horses on which UF pathologists
conducted necropsies. Six other horses had been sent to the Florida Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services' diagnostic laboratory in Kissimmee, Fla., for postmortem
examinations. The necropsies of all 21 horses yielded no answers, nor did subsequent
microscopic examinations. Even the UF Racing Laboratory, which routinely conducts
toxicology screening tests of race horses in the state, revealed nothing initially that could
explain the horses' sudden deaths.
Subsequent tests conducted by UF toxicologist David Barber, however, verified the
presence of life-threatening concentrations of selenium in the horses' blood and liver. The
concentrations were found to be 10 to 15 times higher than normal in the blood and 15 to 20
times higher than normal in the liver.
"Our role in testing was key, not only because we were able to verify the toxic levels of
selenium found to be present in the blood and liver of these horses, but also because through
additional testing conducted at our Racing Lab, we were able to rule out the presence of
common performance-enhancing drugs," said Dr. John Harvey, the college's executive
associate dean and a board-certified clinical pathologist.
"This is significant, because in ruling out other drugs that could have killed these
horses, we essentially were able to corroborate the assessment that indeed these deaths were
likely caused by an accidental overdose rather than due to malicious or criminal intent."
The 15 horses UF performed necropsies on arrived around 3 a.m. on Monday morning,
April 20. The first group of six horses had been taken to the state diagnostic laboratory in
Kissimmee, Fla., filling it to capacity.
An eight-person UF pathology team led by Dr. Lisa Farina and Dr. Jeff Abbott, both
board-certified anatomic pathologists, immediately set to work conducting the necropsies of
eight of the 15 horses. The task was completed at approximately 5 p.m. on Monday. Soon after,
a request came to necropsy the remaining seven horses All of the necropsies, including those
performed at UF and those conducted at the state's diagnostic lab, were complete by day's end
Wednesday morning, Farina and her colleague, Dr. Michael Dark, an assistant professor
of anatomic pathology, began examining slides with tissue samples under the microscope
while a CNN reporter videotaped them at work.
By this time, reports had surfaced that individuals associated with the polo team had
admitted giving vitamin supplement shots to the horses shortly before they died. Speculation
intensified as to what exactly had been administered and whether any of the ingredients in the
supplement injections could have caused the horses' deaths.
Meanwhile, blood samples taken from some horses before they died had arrived at UF
and were being tested at the UF Racing Lab, under the direction of Dr. Richard Sams.
Pathologists and toxicologists remained puzzled, as nothing conclusive had yet emerged.
On Thursday, April 22, the focus of the story took a dramatic shift when a spokesperson
for a private pharmacy said that the horses had received an incorrect dose of one of the
ingredients used in a vitamin compound with which the horses had been injected. Because of
ongoing law-enforcement and other investigations, the pharmacy did not initially release the
name of the specific ingredient.
Based on this information, Dr. David Barber, an associate professor in the Center for
Environmental and Human Toxicology in the college's department of physiological sciences,
worked until late Thursday night conducting analysis of inorganic components of the vitamin
Testing was performed on the blood and livers of affected and unaffected horses and
while Barber was not informed which horse was the "control" horse, he guessed the obvious
after completing the testing. The unaffected horse was the only horse among those tested that
showed normal levels of selenium in its blood, as compared to very elevated levels detected in
the blood of other horses tested. A pharmacy spokesperson later confirmed that selenium was
the mistaken ingredient.
UF's team of veterinary pathologists performed necropsies on 15 of the 21 polo ponies that died April 19 in
Wellington, Fla. Members of the group are, in front row, seated, from left to right: Dr. Michael Dark, an assistant
professor of anatomic pathology at UF; Dr. Linda Hayes, a first-year anatomic pathology resident; Dr. Debabrata
Mahapatra, a second-year anatomic pathology resident; and Dr. Ken Conley, a first-year anatomic pathology
resident. In back row, standing, from left to right, are: Dr. Jeff Abbott, an assistant professor of anatomic
pathology; Dr. Nanny Wenslow, a clinical instructor of anatomic pathology; and Dr. lan Hawkins, a second-year
anatomic pathology resident. At far right, seated at the microscope, is Dr. Lisa Farina, necropsy service chief, who
led the team. Not pictured is Dr. Barbara Sheppard, clinical associate professor of anatomic pathology, who also
participated. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Dr. David Barber, a UF toxicologist, is shown at left with UF College of Veterinary Medicine Raing Lab scientific
manager David Hall and the lab's director, Dr. Richard Sams. Barber was able to verify life-threatening levels of
selenium in the blood and livers of several of the horses that died suddenly in Wellington just prior to a
tournament on April 19. Selenium was determined to be the probable cause of death. The UF College of
Veterinary Medicine Racing Lab meanwhile had performed screening tests on samples from the animals in order
to rule out the presence of any performance-enhancing drugs in the horses' systems. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Congratulations to new
advanced degree recipients UF CVM Racing Lab tests samples from Kentucky Derby horses
Several UF CVM graduate students
received their advanced degrees during
commencement exercises held May 2.
Receiving her doctoral (Ph.D.) degree
was Dr. Heather Wamsley. Receiving the
thesis-based master of science degree was
sophomore veterinary student Eric Johnson.
Recipients of the non-thesis, Web-
based master of science degree in forensic
toxicology were Mary Babos, Sabra Botch,
Matthew Cook, Teri Freeman, William Lee,
Suzy Russell, Amy Staub and Greta Wright.
Congratulations to all!
UFs role in investigating
cause of polo horse deaths
draws international press
Print, broadcast and Internet news
outlets in the United States and abroad
provided broad press coverage of the
April 19 deaths of 21 polo horses in
Wellington, Fla. The role of the
University of Florida College of Shiro Curtis, left, and Erin Funk, right, both technicians at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Racing Lab, perform a solid phase extraction of
Veterinary Medicine in testing to urine samples from horses that ran in the Kentucky Derby May 2 in Louisville. The UF Racing Lab, under contract for the first time this year by the Kentucky Horse
determine the cause of these deaths was Racing Commission,tested multiple samples from each race for the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. All analyses are expected to be complete by
mentioned in many of these outlets. Wednesday. (UF photo by Ray Carson)
Below is a list of known media
outlets who provided a UF mention:
Print, On-line and Broadcast Outlets:
CNN; New York Times; USA Today;
Washington Post; Los Angeles Times;
Scientific American; Orlando Sentinel;
Miami Herald; Sun-Sentinel; Palm
Beach Post; Gainesville Sun; Ocala Star
Banner; The Horse; WCJB Gainesville;
WESH Orlando, Augusts Chronicle,
Tucson Citizen, The Times Leader,
Halifax Daily News, Metro News Ottawa,
Chattanooga Times, Canton Repository,
San Jose Mercury News, USA Today,
National Post, Washington Observer
Reporter, WFTS-TV (Tampa), WPTV
WPBF, Sun-Journal (Maine), Victoria
Advocate (Texas), New London Day
(Connecticut), Farm Weekly (Australia),
Augusta Chronicle (Georgia), Tuscon
Citizen (Arizona), The Times Leader
(Pennsylvania), Palm Beach Post, Halifax
Daily News (Nova Scotia), Metro News-
Ottawa (Ontario), Metro News-(Calgary);
Chattanooga Times & Free Press (TN),
Canton Repository (Ohio); San Jose
Mercury News (California); York Daily
Record (Pennsylvania); Connecticut
Post (Connecticut); El Paso Times, Metro
News-(Edmonton); Danbury News-Times
(Connecticut); York Dispatch
(Pennsylvania); Oakland Tribune &
Inside Bay Area (CA); Marin
Independent Journal (California);
Stamford Advocate (Connecticut);
Greenwich Time (Connecticut); USA
Today, National Post & Financial Post
(Ontario); WSFL (South Florida);
WSYR-TV (Syracuse) DVM Magazine
Newsday.com; MSNBC.com; NBC
2009 Alumni Council Distinguished Award recipients to be honored at
commencement ceremony May 23
The UF College of Veterinary Medicine's Alumni Council
created the Distinguished Award Program in 2001 to honor
alumni, faculty and special friends of the college who have
contributed meaningfully to college life. For more
information, please contactJo Ann Winn at (352) 392-2213,
/Dr. Dale Kaplan-Stein
Dr. Dale Kaplan-Stein
Dr. Julio Ibanez
Dr. Jerome Modell
Two small animal veterinary practice owners from Gainesville and Miami, the chief
veterinarian at the Georgia Aquarium and two UF professors emeritus have been
honored for their career accomplishments by the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
Four awards were given through the 2009 Distinguished Award program, which is
sponsored by the college's alumni council and offers recognition to deserving alumni, faculty
and others who have contributed meaningfully to UF and/or to the veterinary profession.
Dale Kaplan-Stein, D.VM., and Julio Ibanez, D.VM. both received Alumni Achievement
Awards this year.
Kaplan-Stein, a member of the college's class of 1981, owns Oaks Veterinary Hospital
and Northwood Oaks Veterinary Hospital, both in Gainesville. She also helped establish
Affiliated Pet Emergency Services in
Gainesville in 1988. For more than 20 years,
Kaplan-Stein has been a tireless volunteer for
Gainesville Pet Rescue, Alachua County
Animal Services and No More Homeless Pets,
among other groups. In 2007, she founded
the St. Francis House Pet Care Clinic, through
which she has helped provide care to nearly
500 pets of homeless and disadvantaged
people living in the Alachua County area.
Ibanez, a member of the college's
charter class of 1980, owns Quail Roost
Animal Hospital in Miami. He is a former
president of the college's alumni council and
has been actively involved in the Florida
Dr. Tonya Clauss Veterinary Medical Association. He also has
served on the executive boards of the South
Florida Veterinary Medical Association and
the South Florida Veterinary Foundation. Ibanez received the FVMA's Gold Star Award in 2003
for his outstanding contributions to veterinary medicine.
The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award was given to Tonya Clauss, D.VM. Clauss, a
2003 graduate of the UF veterinary college, is chief veterinarian at the Georgia Aquarium,
where she works with one of the world's largest collections of aquatic animals. Frequently
featured in the national news whenever the Aquarium treats high-profile cases, Clauss is an
active spokeswoman for the importance of aquatic animal health.
Louis Archbald, D.VM., Ph.D., a professor emeritus of animal reproduction, has
received the Distinguished Service Award. Archbald joined UF's faculty as a professor and
assistant dean for clinical services/chief of staff of UF's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
in 1984. Until he retired in 2008, Archbald directed minority-oriented initiatives, later known
as multicultural and special programs at the college. He received the 2001 Iverson Bell Award
from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges for his outstanding contribu-
tions in promoting opportunities for minority students in veterinary medical education. Even
after retirement, Archbald has continued to advise and mentor minority students in the D.VM.
and graduate programs.
The college's Special Service Award went to Jerome Modell, M.D., a professor emeritus
of anesthesiology at UF's College of Medicine who also holds a courtesy appointment in the
College of Veterinary Medicine. For more than 20 years, Modell, always eager to draw parallels
between animal and human patients, routinely invited UF veterinary faculty to lecture in his
classes. In the 1980s, he helped create a human patient simulator to teach medical students.
This tool was soon adapted to teach anesthesia to UF veterinary students.
The awards will be presented May 23 at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
during college commencement exercises.
Coating ceremony marks key transition to clinics for class of 2011
...for more photos, turn to p. 4. See also Dr. William Castleman's Web site, at:
http://www. wlcastleman. com/ufvetmed/cvmcoat_ 09/index.htm
Student helpers Alex Alvarez, '12, and Jordan Taheri, '10, assembled the 87 gift bags containing goodies
from various sponsors. Each member of the class of 2011 received a bag when they exited the stage
after receiving their new white coat. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Dr. Corrina Blackmore, state public health veterinarian, and Dr. Scott Terrell, '97, a veterinary pathologist who
works with Disney's Animal Kingdom, were among the coat presenters. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Ceremony draws CVM faculty, alumni, and fellow students and families of
80 veterinary students to University Auditorium May 9
Meghan Tibbs, class of 11, center, with her parents, Gary and Julie Tibbs, after the coating ceremony. Meghan
was coated by Dr. Terry Curtis, a veterinary behavior specialist and UF CVM alumna from the class of '97.
(Photo by Sarah Carey)
Dr. Dale Kaplan-Stein, left, a UF CVM alumna from the class of 1981, is shown with her daughter, Sara Kaplan-Stein,
center, whom she coated during the ceremony, and Dean Glen Hoffsis. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Tiffini Vaughan, class of '11, and her boyfriend.
(Photo by Sarah Carey)
Dr. Darryl Heard, professor of zoological medicine, and Dr. April Romagnano, class of '92, director of animal resources
and attending veterinarian for Scripps Florida, were coat presenters. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
From left to right are Meredith Woods, representing Taylors Pharmacy, a coating ceremony sponsor; Karen Legato,
senior director of development and alumni affairs for the UF CVM; Dr. Glen Hoffsis, dean of the college; Carrie
Rhodes, also representing Taylor's Pharmacy; and Patricia Wlasuk, development associate. (Photo by Sarah Carey)
Dr. Jan Hasse, FVMA president-elect and guest speaker, left, and Phil Hinkle, FVMA's executive director, far
right, are shown with sophomore students Caty Love and Leonel Londono, both from the class of '11. Both Love
and Londario received FVMA scholarship awards during the coating ceremony. (Photo by Sarah Carey)