Enterocolitis associated with Clostridium perfringens infection neonatal foals: 54 cases (1988–1997)

Leslie M. East From the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (East, Savage, Traub-Dargatz, Dickinson) and Microbiology (Ellis), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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 DVM
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Catherine J. Savage From the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (East, Savage, Traub-Dargatz, Dickinson) and Microbiology (Ellis), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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 BVSc, PhD
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Josie L. Traub-Dargatz From the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (East, Savage, Traub-Dargatz, Dickinson) and Microbiology (Ellis), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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 DVM, MS
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Charles E. Dickinson From the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (East, Savage, Traub-Dargatz, Dickinson) and Microbiology (Ellis), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Robert P. Ellis From the Departments of Veterinary Clinical Sciences (East, Savage, Traub-Dargatz, Dickinson) and Microbiology (Ellis), College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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 PhD

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Objective

To identify clinical signs, physical examination findings, results of diagnostic tests, treatments administered, and clinical outcome of neonatal foals with enterocolitis associated with Clostridium perfringens infection.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

54 neonatal foals.

Results

Most foals had acute onset of obtunded mentation, colic, or diarrhea and developed leukopenia, neutropenia, an abnormally high number of band neutrophils, toxic WBC, and hypoproteinemia within 24 hours after admission, despite high serum lgG concentrations (> 800 mg/dl). Abdominocentesis and abdominal radiography of some foals revealed exudative peritonitis and gaseous distention of the small and large intestine, respectively. Cytologic examination of feces revealed spores or gram-positive rods in 8 of 10 foals. The most common genotypes of C perfringens isolates were type A and C, alone or in combination. Treatment did not alter mortality rate for most foals that had a positive culture for C perfringens type C. Of 54 foals, 29 (54%) that had C perfringens-associated enterocolitis died. Foals that had a culture that yielded C perfringens had higher sepsis scores, IgG concentrations, and mortality rates, compared with the overall hospital population of neonatal foals.

Clinical Implications

Foals less than 7 days old that have enterocolitis associated with C perfringens infections, especially type C, have a guarded prognosis. Cytologic examination of feces to determine spore counts and detect rods may be a means for early identification of C perfringens infections. Polymerase chain reaction assays to determine genotype are important for designing preventive treatment regimens. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212:1751–1756)

Objective

To identify clinical signs, physical examination findings, results of diagnostic tests, treatments administered, and clinical outcome of neonatal foals with enterocolitis associated with Clostridium perfringens infection.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

54 neonatal foals.

Results

Most foals had acute onset of obtunded mentation, colic, or diarrhea and developed leukopenia, neutropenia, an abnormally high number of band neutrophils, toxic WBC, and hypoproteinemia within 24 hours after admission, despite high serum lgG concentrations (> 800 mg/dl). Abdominocentesis and abdominal radiography of some foals revealed exudative peritonitis and gaseous distention of the small and large intestine, respectively. Cytologic examination of feces revealed spores or gram-positive rods in 8 of 10 foals. The most common genotypes of C perfringens isolates were type A and C, alone or in combination. Treatment did not alter mortality rate for most foals that had a positive culture for C perfringens type C. Of 54 foals, 29 (54%) that had C perfringens-associated enterocolitis died. Foals that had a culture that yielded C perfringens had higher sepsis scores, IgG concentrations, and mortality rates, compared with the overall hospital population of neonatal foals.

Clinical Implications

Foals less than 7 days old that have enterocolitis associated with C perfringens infections, especially type C, have a guarded prognosis. Cytologic examination of feces to determine spore counts and detect rods may be a means for early identification of C perfringens infections. Polymerase chain reaction assays to determine genotype are important for designing preventive treatment regimens. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;212:1751–1756)

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