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Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection in horses, known as ‘pigeon fever’, or ‘dryland distemper’, is a re-emerging bacterial disease causing external or internal abscesses, or chronic limb infection (lymphangitis) (Aleman and others 1996) worldwide. Two biovars exist, biovar ovis and biovar equi, which can be distinguished by nitrate reduction and genetic fingerprinting methods (Biberstein and others 1971, Dorella and others 2006). C pseudotuberculosis biovar equi infection is prevalent in the western USA and appears to be spreading to regions not previously considered endemic (Foley and others 2004). While research has shown that various fly species are capable of vectoring C pseudotuberculosis to horses, insects are not the reservoir for infection (Spier and others 2004). Soil is speculated to be the reservoir for the bacteria, although studies of the ecology of the organism are lacking. There are only limited studies on the survival of C pseudotuberculosis in soil (Augustine and Renshaw 1982, 1986). Thus, the aims of this investigation were to study the impact of selected environmental conditions including different soil types, ambient temperature, moisture level and presence of equine faeces for the persistence and multiplication potential of C pseudotuberculosis and to determine its longevity in a regulated milieu.
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