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Primary and secondary limb cellulitis in horses: 44 cases (2000–2006)

Emma N. Adam BVetMed, DACVIM1 and Louise L. Southwood BVSc, PhD, DACVS, DACVECC2
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348-1692.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Studies, New Bolton Center, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Kennett Square, PA 19348-1692.

Abstract

Objective—To determine historical, physical, and microbiologic findings in horses with limb cellulitis and identify factors associated with short- and long-term outcome.

Design—Retrospective case series.

Animals—44 horses with limb cellulitis.

Procedures—Information obtained from medical records included use, history, affected limb, diagnostic procedures, treatment, and short-term outcome. Long-term follow-up information was obtained by means of a telephone survey.

Results—Twenty-four horses had primary cellulitis, and 18 of the 24 (75%) had a hind limb affected. Results of microbiologic culture were positive for all 20 horses with primary cellulitis from which specimens were obtained, with coagulase-positive Staphylococcus spp recovered from 12 of the 20. Short-term survival rate was 67% (16/24) for horses with primary cellulitis; 7 of the 9 horses available for long-term follow-up were being used for their intended use, and 4 had had a recurrence. Results of microbiologic culture were positive for 13 of the 16 (81%) horses with secondary cellulitis from which specimens were obtained. Short-term survival rate for horses with secondary cellulitis was 90% (18/20). Eleven of the 17 horses available for long-term follow-up were being used for their intended use; 2 had had a recurrence.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that cellulitis can be a life-threatening condition in horses. Horses that were febrile at admission or that developed laminitis were significantly less likely to survive. The prognosis for return to function was guarded, and recurrence was a potential concern.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Adam's present address is Equine Sports Medicine & Surgery, PO Box 1569, Weatherford, TX 76086.

Address correspondence to Dr. Adam.