A vaccine for Rhodococcus equi, the common bacteria that affects foals, often causing severe infections, pneumonia, and sometimes death, is in the final stages of development. Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health (ISPAH) said on Jan. 27 that a candidate vaccine for R. equi would be tested in a field trial in Germany in the near future.

The bacteria R. equi is a major problem on U.S. breeding farms, as it causes pneumonia and other infections in foals ages 3 weeks to 5 months. Treatment for affected foals is time consuming and costly, and about 30% of affected foals die as a result of the pneumonia or infections. Researchers are still working to develop control and prevention strategies.

René Aerts, MSc, PhD, vice president of global biologicals research and development at ISPAH, said in a press release that the availability of a safe and effective vaccine against R. equi would have several benefits: "The advantage for the animals would be that they are protected against suffering from a severe and potentially fatal disease. In addition, for horse owners and breeders disease prevention would avoid significant economic losses. Finally, the availability of a safe and efficacious vaccine would lead to a reduction of antibiotics prescription in animals."

"We've all been working towards immunization against Rhodococcus equi pne