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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • serum amyloid A;
  • foals;
  • Rhodococcus equi;
  • diagnosis;
  • screening

Summary

Reasons for performing study: Prognosis of Rhodococcus equi pneumonia can be challenging because the course of the disease is often insidious and overt clinical signs are subtle. Early diagnosis is considered desirable because it may offer the chance of more successful implementation of treatment and, thereby, improved outcome. Serological tests have previously failed to be accurate for early detection or diagnosis. Measurement of serum amyloid A (SAA) prior to and at the time of clinical signs was therefore chosen in order to assess its potential clinical use.

Objective: To determine whether SAA concentrations differentiate foals affected with R. equi pneumonia from unaffected foals, either prior to the onset of disease or at the time of onset of clinical signs.

Hypothesis: SAA concentrations are significantly higher among foals that develop R. equi pneumonia than in foals from the same environment that remain clinically unaffected.

Methods: Serum samples were obtained from 212 foals 7–14 days and 196 foals 21–28 days post partum, and from affected foals and age-matched controls at the time of onset of signs of pneumonia. SAA concentration was determined for each sample.

Results: There were no significant differences between SAA concentrations of foals with R. equi and clinically unaffected foals during the 2 periods of examination or at the time of onset of clinical signs of R. equi pneumonia.

Conclusions: Concentrations of SAA are variable among foals with R. equi pneumonia and cannot be used reliably either as an ancillary diagnostic tool or to screen for early detection of disease during the first month post partum.

Potential relevance: Bimonthly monitoring concentration of SAA is not useful as a screening test for early detection of R. equi pneumonia and does not facilitate diagnosis of this disease when used according to the protocol of this study.