Virulent Rhodococcus equi in Soil Not an Indicator of Pneumonia Problems

The amount and type of Rhodococcus equi in a farm’s soil is not an indicator of an increased likelihood of having foal pneumonia cases caused by this bug, reported researchers from Texas A&M University.
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The amount and type of Rhodococcus equi in a farm’s soil is not an indicator of an increased likelihood of having foal pneumonia cases caused by this bug, reported researchers from Texas A&M University. Additionally, farms with a greater density of mares and foals on the property are more likely to have cases of foal pneumonia attributable to Rhodococcus equi than farms with fewer horses.

Rhodococcus equi (R. equi) is a bacterium that causes pneumonia in foals. In North America the pathogenic (disease-causing) form of R. equi is endemic on some farms and approximately 10-20% of foals on endemic farms develop clinical signs of pneumonia.

“To date, it is unclear why some foals on some farms develop pneumonia caused by the pathogenic strain of R. equi and not others,” explained Noah Cohen, VMD, MPH, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, of Texas A&M’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Science, and lead author on this study. “We performed this study to determine if an association existed between soil concentrations of the pathogenic strain of R. equi and the number of foals with R. equi-associated pneumonia.”

Investigators obtained soil samples from 37 farms in Central Kentucky and measured the concentrations of both total R. equi and the disease-causing form of R. equi in January, March, and July of 2006

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Written by:

Stacey Oke, MSc, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and freelance medical writer and editor. She is interested in both large and small animals, as well as complementary and alternative medicine. Since 2005, she’s worked as a research consultant for nutritional supplement companies, assisted physicians and veterinarians in publishing research articles and textbooks, and written for a number of educational magazines and websites.

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