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Association of pneumonia in foals caused by Rhodococcus equi with farm soil geochemistry

Ronald J. MartensDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

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Noah D. CohenDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

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M. Keith ChaffinDepartment of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

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Jeffery S. WaskomDepartment of Soil and Crop Science, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843.

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Abstract

Objective—To quantify and compare geochemical factors in surface soils from horse-breeding farms with horses with pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi (affected farms) and horse-breeding farms with no history of pneumonia caused by R equi (unaffected farms).

Sample Population—Soil from 24 R equi-affected farms and 21 unaffected farms.

Procedure—Equine veterinary practitioners throughout Texas submitted surface soil samples from areas most frequented by foals, on R equi affected and unaffected horse-breeding farms in their practice. Soil samples were assayed for the following factors: pH, salinity, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. Median values for all factors were recorded, and differences between affected and unaffected farms were compared.

Results—Significant differences in soil factors were not detected between affected and unaffected farms; hence, there was no association between those factors and R equi disease status of the farms.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The surface soil factors monitored in this study were not significant risk factors for pneumonia caused by R equi. As such, it is not possible to determine whether foals on a given farm are at increased risk of developing disease caused by R equi on the basis of these factors. Data do not support altering surface soil for factors examined, such as alkalinization by applying lime, as viable control strategies for R equi. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:95–98)

Abstract

Objective—To quantify and compare geochemical factors in surface soils from horse-breeding farms with horses with pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi (affected farms) and horse-breeding farms with no history of pneumonia caused by R equi (unaffected farms).

Sample Population—Soil from 24 R equi-affected farms and 21 unaffected farms.

Procedure—Equine veterinary practitioners throughout Texas submitted surface soil samples from areas most frequented by foals, on R equi affected and unaffected horse-breeding farms in their practice. Soil samples were assayed for the following factors: pH, salinity, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, sulfur, zinc, iron, manganese, and copper. Median values for all factors were recorded, and differences between affected and unaffected farms were compared.

Results—Significant differences in soil factors were not detected between affected and unaffected farms; hence, there was no association between those factors and R equi disease status of the farms.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—The surface soil factors monitored in this study were not significant risk factors for pneumonia caused by R equi. As such, it is not possible to determine whether foals on a given farm are at increased risk of developing disease caused by R equi on the basis of these factors. Data do not support altering surface soil for factors examined, such as alkalinization by applying lime, as viable control strategies for R equi. (Am J Vet Res 2002;63:95–98)