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Salmonella enterica shedding in hospitalized horses and associations with diarrhea occurrence among their stablemates and gastrointestinal-related illness or death following discharge

Amanda K. Hartnack DVM, MS1, David C. Van Metre DVM, DACVIM2, and Paul S. Morley DVM, PhD, DACVIM3
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  • 1 Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the potential association between Salmonella enterica shedding in hospitalized horses and the risk of diarrhea among stablemates, and to characterize gastrointestinal-related illness and death following discharge among horses that shed S enterica while hospitalized.

Design—Case-control study.

Animals—221 horses (59 that shed S enterica during hospitalization and 162 that tested negative for S enterica shedding ≥ 3 times during hospitalization).

Procedures—Information from medical records (signalment, results of microbial culture of fecal samples, clinical status at the time of culture, and treatment history) was combined with data collected through interviews with horse owners regarding formerly hospitalized horses and their stablemates. Data were analyzed to investigate risk factors for death and diarrhea.

Results—Occurrence of diarrhea among stablemates of formerly hospitalized horses was not associated with S enterica shedding in hospitalized horses but was associated with oral treatment with antimicrobials during hospitalization. Salmonella enterica shedding during hospitalization was not associated with risk of death or gastrointestinal-related illness in study horses ≤ 6 months after discharge, but shedding status and history of gastrointestinal illness were associated with increased risk of death during the preinterview period.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Stablemates of horses that shed S enterica during hospitalization did not appear to have an increased risk for diarrhea, but comingling with horses that receive orally administered antimicrobials may affect this risk. Salmonella enterica shedding during hospitalization may be a marker of increased long-term risk of death after discharge. Risks are likely influenced by the S enterica strain involved and biosecurity procedures used.

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate the potential association between Salmonella enterica shedding in hospitalized horses and the risk of diarrhea among stablemates, and to characterize gastrointestinal-related illness and death following discharge among horses that shed S enterica while hospitalized.

Design—Case-control study.

Animals—221 horses (59 that shed S enterica during hospitalization and 162 that tested negative for S enterica shedding ≥ 3 times during hospitalization).

Procedures—Information from medical records (signalment, results of microbial culture of fecal samples, clinical status at the time of culture, and treatment history) was combined with data collected through interviews with horse owners regarding formerly hospitalized horses and their stablemates. Data were analyzed to investigate risk factors for death and diarrhea.

Results—Occurrence of diarrhea among stablemates of formerly hospitalized horses was not associated with S enterica shedding in hospitalized horses but was associated with oral treatment with antimicrobials during hospitalization. Salmonella enterica shedding during hospitalization was not associated with risk of death or gastrointestinal-related illness in study horses ≤ 6 months after discharge, but shedding status and history of gastrointestinal illness were associated with increased risk of death during the preinterview period.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Stablemates of horses that shed S enterica during hospitalization did not appear to have an increased risk for diarrhea, but comingling with horses that receive orally administered antimicrobials may affect this risk. Salmonella enterica shedding during hospitalization may be a marker of increased long-term risk of death after discharge. Risks are likely influenced by the S enterica strain involved and biosecurity procedures used.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Hartnack's present address is Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Supported in part by the Merck Veterinary Scholars Program.

Address correspondence to Dr. Morley (paul.morley@colostate.edu).