Uveitis Research Pinpoints Leptospira interrogans

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association provides evidence that persistent ocular (eye) infection with the bacterium Leptospira interrogans is much more common in horses with recurrent uveitis than previously thought.

The species L. interrogans contains more than 218 separate strains, all of which are capable of producing

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A recent study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association provides evidence that persistent ocular (eye) infection with the bacterium Leptospira interrogans is much more common in horses with recurrent uveitis than previously thought.

The species L. interrogans contains more than 218 separate strains, all of which are capable of producing the disease leptospirosis, which can affect people as well as a wide variety of animals.(For more on leptospirosis, see “Shared Diseases” on page 57.)

In this study, eyes from 242 horses with recurrent uveitis were tested for the presence of L. interrogans. These horses were undergoing vitrectomy (removal of the vitreous and replacement with an antibiotic solution) as a treatment. The researchers tested serum and vitreous humor (the jelly-like fluid that occupies the space between the retina and the back surface of the iris and lens) for evidence of infection with L. interrogans. These findings were compared with a control group of horses which had no history or clinical signs of recurrent uveitis, and were undergoing euthanasia or enucleation (removal of the eye) for other reasons.

Barton W. Rohrbach, VMD, MPH, Dipl. ACVPM, Associate Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Tennessee (UT) College of Veterinary Medicine, was a co-author of the study. He said, “The advantage of this particular study was the opportunity to test (culture) fluid from the eyes of a large number of horses with recurrent uveitis that underwent vitrectomy.” Rohrbach and his colleagues found L. interrogans in the vitreous humor of 52% of the horses with recurrent uveitis. Duration of recurrent uveitis was more than a year for 38% of the horses from which L. interrogans was isolated

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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