• horse;
  • pericarditis;
  • cardiac tamponade;
  • Actinobacillus equuli;
  • passive transfer failure;
  • septic arthritis


A 3-week-old Pony of the Americas foal presented with a history of respiratory distress presumed to result from Actinobacillus equuli pleuropneumonia and septic arthritis. Failure of transfer of passive colostral immunity was suspected, but not confirmed, based on a history of the foal being separated from its dam shortly after parturition. Transient improvement was noted following thoracocentesis and removal of approximately 600 ml of pleural fluid but progressive clinical signs of congestive heart failure developed. Fibrinous pericarditis with evidence of cardiac tamponade was subsequently diagnosed via thoracic ultrasonography. Early clinical signs of cardiogenic shock were identified and fibrinopurulent exudate removed through a catheter placed with ultrasound guidance into the pericardium. The foal experienced cardiorespiratory arrest during the procedure and died despite resuscitative efforts. Post mortem examination identified extensive hypertrophy of the pericardium, septic arthritis, mild pleural effusion and focal bronchopneumonia. This report details the clinical evaluation, haematology, treatment and post mortem pathology of a foal with Actinobacillus equuli associated fibrinous pericarditis, as well as a brief review of cardiac tamponade.