Equine Health Update February 2017 Issue - Page 13

consistent with the stability of this actual substance . The labelling is also not at all consistent of a legally registered pharmaceutical product of reputable quality and verifiable content and potency . Be aware of recent reports that some of these web based companies are currently actively being investigated and warned by the FDA in the USA for non-compliance which will result in serious action . Note that several equine studies have been conducted on many of the actual , scientifically verified pure substances which some of these products claim to contain and there is evidence that several of these substances do not result in therapeutic benefit to the horse . The NHA Laboratory , as an active member of the Association of Official Racing Chemists and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities , is aware of the range of prohibited substance of concern to racing on a worldwide and also local basis and continue to investigate such substances as part of the screening conducted on racehorse specimens . Where and when preparations such as those describe above are sourced these are thoroughly investigated and researched at our Laboratory .
Dr S . S . de Kock Laboratory Director 17 August 2016
THE DETECTION AND PROSECUTION OF COBALT USE IN THE HORSE Cobalt is naturally found in all animals and animal feed and is considered an essential dietary trace element and micronutrient . Cobalt deficiency is not observed in horses in the wild and the normal diet of horses in combination with the usual prescribed vitamin supplementation should supply the horse with sufficient cobalt for its well-being and health . Cobalt is classed as a ’ heavy metal ’ and is a structural component of vitamin B12 ( cobalamin ). This vitamin is involved in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and in the final stages of red blood cell formation and maturation . All of cobalt ’ s potential physiological effects in the horse have not yet been determined ; however , high doses can present severe toxic effects and be very detrimental to the health of the horse . Evidence suggests that cobalt preparations are being used inappropriately in racehorses in some racing jurisdictions . As cobalt is naturally present in equine biological samples such as blood and urine , it was decided that the introduction of an international threshold for cobalt will be necessary to facilitate the control of misuse in racehorses . Trainers are advised that the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities ( IFHA ) has set an international threshold of 0.1 microgram per millilitre cobalt in horse urine . The NHA , as a signatory country of the IFHA , has now adopted this threshold in its rules .
This decision was made following a survey which showed that natural levels of cobalt in racehorses within South Africa correspond to those observed in other countries and that the threshold can be applied to the local population . In future any finding of cobalt above this international threshold will be a Class 3 offence . A large range of registered oral and injectable veterinary supplements which contain vitamin B12 ( cobalamin ) are available for use in the horse . The administration of any of these could give rise to an elevation of total cobalt levels in blood and urine .
It is recommended that supplemental cobalt from any source , including registered cobalt containing supplements and vitamin B12 ( cobalamin ), not be administered to the horse within at least two full days prior to race day . Higher doses than those indicated by the product and also repeated administrations may require longer elimination periods . Note that reliance on and use of this guidance does not absolve or diminish a trainer or owner from being responsible for ensuring that the horse complies with the rules relating to the presence of drugs and prohibited substances when presenting a horse .
• Volume 19 no 1 • February 2017 • 13