Characteristics and risk factors for failure of horses with acute diarrhea to survive: 122 cases (1990–1996)

Noah D. Cohen From the Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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 VMD, MPH, PhD
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April M. Woods From the Department of Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-4475.

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Objective

To characterize horses with acute diarrhea and determine risk factors for failure to survive.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

122 adult horses admitted for acute diarrhea at the teaching hospital between Jan 1, 1990 and Dec 31, 1996.

Procedure

Medical records of horses with acute diarrhea were reviewed to abstract information regarding signalment, history, physical examination, clinicopathologic testing, treatment, and outcome.

Results

91 of 122 (74.6%) horses lived and were discharged from the hospital. Horses with history of administration of antimicrobials for a problem preceding diarrhea were approximately 4.5 times less likely to survive. The following variables that had been determined at the time of admission were significantly associated with failure to survive: administration of antimicrobial drugs for another illness, serum creatinine concentration > 2.0 mg/dl, PCV > 45%, tachycardia (heart rate > 60 beats/min), and low serum total protein concentration. Prevalence of laminitis was 11.5%.

Clinical Implications

Diarrheic horses that are azotemic and have clinicopathologic findings consistent with hemoconcentration and hypoproteinemia have a poor prognosis for survival. Antimicrobial administration may induce diarrhea, and antimicrobial-associated diarrhea may have a worse prognosis than other types of acute diarrhea. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;214:382–390)

Objective

To characterize horses with acute diarrhea and determine risk factors for failure to survive.

Design

Retrospective study.

Animals

122 adult horses admitted for acute diarrhea at the teaching hospital between Jan 1, 1990 and Dec 31, 1996.

Procedure

Medical records of horses with acute diarrhea were reviewed to abstract information regarding signalment, history, physical examination, clinicopathologic testing, treatment, and outcome.

Results

91 of 122 (74.6%) horses lived and were discharged from the hospital. Horses with history of administration of antimicrobials for a problem preceding diarrhea were approximately 4.5 times less likely to survive. The following variables that had been determined at the time of admission were significantly associated with failure to survive: administration of antimicrobial drugs for another illness, serum creatinine concentration > 2.0 mg/dl, PCV > 45%, tachycardia (heart rate > 60 beats/min), and low serum total protein concentration. Prevalence of laminitis was 11.5%.

Clinical Implications

Diarrheic horses that are azotemic and have clinicopathologic findings consistent with hemoconcentration and hypoproteinemia have a poor prognosis for survival. Antimicrobial administration may induce diarrhea, and antimicrobial-associated diarrhea may have a worse prognosis than other types of acute diarrhea. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1999;214:382–390)

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