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Am J Vet Res. 1993 Oct;54(10):1615-22.

Association of microbiologic flora with clinical, endoscopic, and pulmonary cytologic findings in foals with distal respiratory tract infection.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Canada.


Undifferentiated distal respiratory tract disease (nasal discharge, cough, pneumonia) in foals (1 to 8 months old) is a burdensome economic problem on breeding farms; yet, the infective agents associated with these episodes have not been well described. Possible causes of these episodes of illness were investigated by culturing specimens of proximal and distal airways of clinically diseased foals (n = 101), prior to any treatment, for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and viruses (rhinoviruses, equine arteritis virus, equine herpesvirus subtype 1 [EHV-1], influenza virus, and adenovirus). Pairs of sera (n = 47) were examined for antibodies to influenza A virus, equine subtypes 1 and 2, EHV-1, and adenovirus antigens, and sera obtained from foals during acute infection were examined for antibodies (by agar gel immunodiffusion [AGID]) to equi factor antigens of Rhodococcus equi. Viruses were not isolated from the proximal (swab) or distal (bronchial lavage) airway specimens in foals, and only 2 of 47 randomly selected foals seroconverted to EHV-1. Serotiters to the other viruses were low and frequently decreasing between samples, which was compatible with maternally derived antibody. Streptococcus zooepidemicus was the predominant isolate from bronchial lavage specimens (88/101 cases), accompanied by alpha-hemolytic streptococci (8 cases), Bordetella bronchiseptica (13 cases), Staphylococcus epidermidis (9 cases), and other organisms in lesser frequency. Only Str zooepidemicus was recovered significantly (P < 0.05) more often in cases than in controls. The AGID test was found useful to detect foals with presumed exposure to R equi, but positive tests results did not correspond well with bacterial culture results; positive AGID results were recorded in 34% of culture-negative foals.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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