Family Seeks Reason for Horses' Deaths

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A few months ago, the Shepard family received great news: they had won a colt from the Wisconsin Quarter Horse Club. In order to allow the colt more time with his mother, the Shepard's decided to wait till November to pickup the foal, but they say the horse just didn't seem quite right.

"When they brought it home and it had cold like symptoms, runny nose and coughed once in awhile," says Tina Shepard, the horse's owner.

Tina and her father kept an eye on their newest addtion, but the horse got worse and died a few days later. Then, their prize mare got sick too.

"She withdrew herself from the other horses. She wouldn't come to us when we would call here and then dad checked her and she had a high fever. She was 6 months pregnant when we lost her," says Shepard.

Since then, the Shepard's have been working to keep their remaining two horses healthy, and they themselves are experiencing flu-like symptoms with a nephew being cared for in the hospital.

"We're worried about them because nobody can seem to explain to us what's going on for sure. They're thinking it might be some sort of salmonella, but nobody seems to know for sure."

According to the University of Minnesota Veterinary College, salmonella can be shared between humans and horses, though the Shepard family is still waiting for a diagnosis of their own condition.

"I'm just scared, it's something that's unexplained to us we need answers and we need them soon."

The Shepard's brought tissue samples from their deceased horses to the State Lab in Barron. They expect results within the next few days.