Objective—To determine whether the concentrations of airborne virulent Rhodococcus equi in stalls housing foals during the first 2 weeks after birth are associated with subsequent development of R equi pneumonia in those foals.
Sample—Air samples collected from foaling stalls and holding pens in which foals were housed during the first 2 weeks after birth.
Procedures—At a breeding farm in Texas, air samples (500 L each) were collected (January through May 2011) from stalls and pens in which 121 foals were housed on day 1 and on days 4, 7, and 14 after birth. For each sample, the concentration of airborne virulent R equi was determined with an immunoblot technique. The association between development of pneumonia and airborne R equi concentration was evaluated via random-effects Poisson regression analysis.
Results—Some air samples were not available for analysis. Of the 471 air samples collected from stalls that housed 121 foals, 90 (19%) contained virulent R equi. Twenty-four of 121 (20%) foals developed R equi pneumonia. Concentrations of virulent R equi in air samples from stalls housing foals that developed R equi pneumonia were significantly higher than those in samples from stalls housing foals that did not develop pneumonia. Accounting for disease effects, air sample concentrations of virulent R equi did not differ significantly by day after birth or by month of birth.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Exposure of foals to airborne virulent R equi during the first 2 weeks after birth was significantly (and likely causally) associated with development of R equi pneumonia.
Objective—To determine whether mares are a clinically important source of Rhodococcus equi for their foals.
Sample Population—171 mares and 171 foals from a farm in Kentucky (evaluated during 2004 and 2005).
Procedures—At 4 time points (2 before and 2 after parturition), the total concentration of R equi and concentration of virulent R equi were determined in fecal specimens from mares by use of quantitative bacteriologic culture and a colony immunoblot technique, respectively. These concentrations for mares of foals that developed R equi–associated pneumonia and for mares with unaffected foals were compared. Data for each year were analyzed separately.
Results—R equi–associated pneumonia developed in 53 of 171 (31%) foals. Fecal shedding of virulent R equi was detected in at least 1 time point for every mare; bacteriologic culture results were positive for 62 of 171 (36%) mares at all time points. However, compared with dams of unaffected foals, fecal concentrations of total or virulent R equi in dams of foals with R equi–associated pneumonia were not significantly different.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicate that dams of foals with R equi–associated pneumonia did not shed more R equi in feces than dams of unaffected foals; therefore, R equi infection in foals was not associated with comparatively greater fecal shedding by their dams. However, detection of virulent R equi in the feces of all mares during at least 1 time point suggests that mares can be an important source of R equi for the surrounding environment.
Objective—To determine whether airborne concentrations of virulent Rhodococcus equi at 2 horse breeding farms varied on the basis of location, time of day, and month.
Sample Population—2 farms in central Kentucky with recurrent R equi-induced pneumonia in foals.
Procedures—From February through July 2008, air samples were collected hourly for a 24-hour period each month from stalls and paddocks used to house mares and their foals. Concentrations of airborne virulent R equi were determined via a modified colony immunoblot technique. Differences were compared by use of zero-inflated negative binomial methods to determine effects of location, time, and month.
Results—Whether mares and foals were housed predominantly in stalls or paddocks significantly affected results for location of sample collection (stall vs paddock) by increasing airborne concentrations of virulent R equi at the site where horses were predominantly housed. Airborne concentrations of virulent R equi were significantly higher from 6:00 pm through 11:59 pm than for the period from midnight through 5:59 am. Airborne concentrations of virulent R equi did not differ significantly between farms or among months.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Airborne concentrations of virulent R equi were significantly increased when horses were predominantly housed at the site for collection of air samples (ie, higher in stalls when horses were predominantly housed in stalls and higher in paddocks when horses were predominantly housed in paddocks). Concentrations of virulent R equi among air samples collected between the hours of 6:00 am and midnight appeared similar.
Objective—To determine whether soil concentrations of total or virulent Rhodococcus equi differed among breeding farms with and without foals with pneumonia caused by R equi.
Sample Population—37 farms in central Kentucky.
Procedures—During January, March, and July 2006, the total concentration of R equi and concentration of virulent R equi were determined by use of quantitative bacteriologic culture and a colony immunoblot technique, respectively, in soil specimens obtained from farms. Differences in concentrations and proportion of virulent isolates within and among time points were compared among farms.
Results—Soil concentrations of total or virulent R equi did not vary among farms at any time point. Virulent R equi were identified in soil samples from all farms. Greater density of mares and foals was significantly associated with farms having foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi. Among farms with affected foals, there was a significant association of increased incidence of pneumonia attributable to R equi with an increase in the proportion of virulent bacteria between samples collected in March and July.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results indicated that virulent R equi were commonly recovered from soil of horse breeding farms in central Kentucky, regardless of the status of foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi on each farm. The incidence of foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi can be expected to be higher at farms with a greater density of mares and foals.