Equine proliferative enteropathy is caused by the obligate, intracellular bacterium Lawsonia intracellularis, which thrives in environments with low oxygen concentrations, such as feces. The clinical signs of EPE are anorexia, rapid weight loss, dependent edema, depression, rough hair coat, fever, colic, and diarrhea. Approximately 5% of exposed horses will develop clinical disease and an additional 5% will develop subclinical disease, manifesting as subnormal weight gain.
Uncomplicated cases of EPE have a high survival rate. Treatment consists of antimicrobial therapy and supportive care such as intravenous fluids. Affected horses should be isolated for seven days following the start of treatment to ensure they can no longer infect other horses.
The guidelines were co-authored by Allen Page, DVM, PhD, scientist/veterinarian at the University of Kentucky’s Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center, and Rebecca Ruby, MSc, BVSc, Dipl. ACVP, ACVIM-LAIM, assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The guidelines were reviewed and approved by the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee and board of directors.
“Equine proliferative enteropathy continues to be an issue for the horse industry,” said Page. “With these new AAEP guidelines, Ruby and I hope the information will help veterinarians appropriately diagnose and treat this unusual disease.”
View the Lawsonia intracellularius (EPE) Guidelines or save them to your mobile device at https://aaep.org/document/equine-proliferative-enteropathy-guidelines.
The American Association of Equine Practitioners, headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit organization dedicated to the health and welfare of the horse. Currently, AAEP reaches more than 5 million horse owners through its over 9,000 members worldwide and is actively involved in ethics issues, practice management, research, and continuing education in the equine veterinary profession and horse industry.