Population-based study of fecal shedding of Clostridium perfringens in broodmares and foals

Kirsten TillotsonDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Josie L. Traub-DargatzDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Charles E. DickinsonDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Robert P. EllisDepartment of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Paul S. MorleyDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Doreene R. HyattDepartment of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Roberta J. MagnusonDepartment of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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W. Thomas RiddleRood and Riddle Equine Hospital, 2150 Georgetown Rd, Lexington, KY 40511.

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Denise BolteDepartment of Microbiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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M. D. SalmanDepartment of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine the percentage of broodmares and foals that shed Clostridium perfringens in their feces and classify the genotypes of those isolates.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional study.

Animals—128 broodmares and their foals on 6 equine premises.

Procedures—Anaerobic and aerobic bacteriologic cultures were performed on feces collected 3 times from broodmares and foals. All isolates of C perfringens were genotyped.

ResultsClostridium perfringens was isolated from the feces of 90% of 3-day-old foals and 64% of foals at 8 to 12 hours of age. A lower percentage of broodmares and 1- to 2-month-old foals shed C perfringens in their feces, compared with neonatal foals. Among samples with positive results, C perfringens type A was the most common genotype identified (85%); C perfringens type A with the β2 toxin gene was identified in 12% of samples, C perfringens type A with the enterotoxin gene was identified in 2.1% of samples, and C perfringens type C was identified in < 1% of samples.

Conclusions and Clinical RelevanceClostridium perfringens was identified from the feces of all but 6 foals by 3 days of age and is likely part of the normal microflora of neonatal foals. Most isolates from broodmares and foals are C perfringens type A; thus, the clinical relevance of culture results alone is questionable. Clostridium perfringens type C, which has been associated with neonatal enterocolitis, is rarely found in the feces of horses. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:342–348)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the percentage of broodmares and foals that shed Clostridium perfringens in their feces and classify the genotypes of those isolates.

Design—Prospective cross-sectional study.

Animals—128 broodmares and their foals on 6 equine premises.

Procedures—Anaerobic and aerobic bacteriologic cultures were performed on feces collected 3 times from broodmares and foals. All isolates of C perfringens were genotyped.

ResultsClostridium perfringens was isolated from the feces of 90% of 3-day-old foals and 64% of foals at 8 to 12 hours of age. A lower percentage of broodmares and 1- to 2-month-old foals shed C perfringens in their feces, compared with neonatal foals. Among samples with positive results, C perfringens type A was the most common genotype identified (85%); C perfringens type A with the β2 toxin gene was identified in 12% of samples, C perfringens type A with the enterotoxin gene was identified in 2.1% of samples, and C perfringens type C was identified in < 1% of samples.

Conclusions and Clinical RelevanceClostridium perfringens was identified from the feces of all but 6 foals by 3 days of age and is likely part of the normal microflora of neonatal foals. Most isolates from broodmares and foals are C perfringens type A; thus, the clinical relevance of culture results alone is questionable. Clostridium perfringens type C, which has been associated with neonatal enterocolitis, is rarely found in the feces of horses. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2002;220:342–348)