• horse;
  • Rhodococcus equi;
  • foal;
  • nasotracheal aspiration;
  • diagnosis


The reliability of preparing bacteriological cultures from nasotracheal aspirates of foals routinely in order to diagnose R. equi pneumonia in foals was studied by isolating Rhodococcus equi from specimens obtained from 96 foals by nasotracheal aspiration with a silicon catheter. Results were compared with specimens obtained from 21 foals by transtracheal aspiration (percutaneous tracheal puncture). These 117 foals showed clinical signs of respiratory tract infection at sampling. R. equi was isolated from 14 of 21 (66.7%) specimens by transtracheal aspiration and from 59 of 96 (61.4%) specimens by nasotracheal aspiration, 649 of 655 isolates (99.1%) from the 73 positive specimens were virulent R. equi, and the culture-positive foals were diagnosed as having R. equi pneumonia. To assess the contamination of aspirates by organisms from the nasopharynx, the results of R. equi isolation from nasal swabs obtained from 56 of the 96 foals were compared to those obtained by nasotracheal aspiration from the same foals. R. equi was isolated from 2 of the 56 nasal swabs: one from a tracheal aspirate was positive, and the other was not. These results suggest that the nasotracheal aspiration technique, which is noninvasive and not associated with complications, could be used as an alternative to the transtracheal aspiration method, especially for the diagnosis of R. equi pneumonia in foals.