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J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1989 Dec 15;195(12):1759-63.

Comparison of bacteriologic culture of blood and necropsy specimens for determining the cause of foal septicemia: 47 cases (1978-1987)

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Department of Medicine, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis 95616.

Erratum in

  • J Am Vet Med Assoc 1990 Feb 1;196(3):438.


Diagnosis of bacterial septicemia was confirmed by results of bacteriologic culture of antemortem blood samples and/or necropsy specimens obtained from 47 foals up to 8 days old. Gram-negative bacteria were isolated from all 47 foals, and mixed infections with more than one organism were involved in 26 (55%). Escherichia coli, Actinobacillus spp, and Klebsiella pneumoniae were the most frequent isolates, infecting 55, 34, and 23% of foals, respectively. Gram-positive bacteria and anaerobic bacteria were isolated only from foals with mixed infections with gram-negative organisms. Clostridium perfringens was the only anaerobe isolated. In 38 (81%) of 47 foals with confirmed septicemia, blood samples were culture-positive. Thirty-two septicemic foals subsequently died, allowing a comparison to be made between the species of bacteria isolated by culture of blood with those recovered by culture of internal organs at necropsy. Blood failed to yield any gram-negative organisms in 12 (37.5%) of 32 foals from which a gram-negative pathogen was isolated at necropsy. Forty-three percent of the gram-negative bacteria, including 59% of the E coli, and 10% of the gram-positive bacteria found in septicemic foals at necropsy were not detected earlier by results of bacteriologic culture of blood.

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