LOCAL : Mystery Over Horse Ailment Grows; Food Supply Examined

From Times Staff and wire service reports

There are more reports surfacing today of a baffling illness that has killed at least 11 horses and badly shaken horse owners and trainers throughout Southern California.

Seven horses in Orange County have died and several others have shown symptoms of the twitching muscles, rapid breathing and difficulty chewing or swallowing that characterize the disease. (Story, A1.)

The mysterious ailment has been reported in several cities in Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties since surfacing at the Orange County Fairgrounds Equestrian Center 10 days ago.

"We are beginning to get all kinds of reports from other cities going as far back as September," Orange County Fairgrounds spokeswoman Jill Lloyd said today.

State officials and a team of veterinarians investigating the malady have not determined a cause but are looking at the food supply, which apparently is the only common link among the stricken equines, Lloyd said.

Officials have scheduled a news conference this afternoon at the Orange County Fairgrounds to provide details on the investigation.

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