Objective—To assess the serial use of serum immunoperoxidase monolayer assays (IPMAs) and fecal PCR assays, combined with other diagnostic methods, to identify subclinical Lawsonia intracellularis infections for targeted treatment of Thoroughbred foals and weanlings at farms in which the pathogen was endemic or nonendemic.
Animals—100 foals and weanlings (53 and 47 at farms in which L intracellularis was endemic and nonendemic, respectively).
Procedures—Serum was collected every 4 weeks and tested via IPMA, for antibodies against L intracellularis. Fecal samples were collected every 2 weeks and tested by use of an L intracellularis–specific PCR assay. When results for IPMAs or PCR assays were positive or clinical signs compatible with equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE) were detected, clinicopathologic testing was performed to determine treatment.
Results—No foals had positive results for the L intracellularis–specific IPMA until after weaning; 32 of 53 (60.4%) weanlings at the farm in which L intracellularis was endemic and 8 of 47 (170%) at the farm in which L intracellularis was nonendemic had positive IPMA results, whereas the number of weanlings that tested positive via fecal PCR assays at those farms was 6 and 0, respectively. Nineteen of 32 weanlings with positive IPMA results at the farm in which L intracellularis was endemic were treated for EPE; 5 of these had clinical signs of EPE. No weanlings at the nonendemic farm had clinical signs of or were treated for EPE.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—IPMA appeared to be a useful means of identifying weanlings exposed to L intracellularis.