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Retrospective study of the relationships between age, inflammation and the isolation of bacteria from the lower respiratory tract of thoroughbred horses
  1. R S. Chapman, BVetMed,MRCVS1,
  2. C. Green, BVSc, MRCVS3,
  3. J. P. M. Main, BVM&S,MRCVS3,
  4. P. M. Taylor, BSc, FIBMS3,
  5. F. M. Cunningham, BSc,PhD2,
  6. A. J. C. Cook, BVM&S,MSc, MRCVS1 and
  7. C. M. Marr, BVMS, MVM,PhD, DEIM, MRCVS1
  1. 1 Department of Farm Animal and Equine Medicine and Surgery
  2. 2 Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hertfordshire AL9 7TA
  3. 3 Donnington Grove Veterinary Hospital, Oxford Road, Newbury, Berkshire RG13 2JB


A total of 1235 tracheal aspirates taken from 724 thoroughbreds in race training, aged from two to 10 years, were examined cytologically and bacteriologically. An inflammation scoring system on a scale of 0 to 9 was devised to allow the severity of lower airway disease to be assessed from the cytological results. The inflammation scores were closely related to the isolation of bacteria (P<0.001), and the most common bacterial isolates were Streptococcus zooepidemicus, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Pasteurella/Actinobacillus-like species. Lower airway disease was less common in older horses (P=0.031), and the groups at highest risk were the two- and four-year-olds. Lower airway inflammation was more common in the four-year-olds at National Hunt yards than in the four-year-olds at flat racing yards (P=0.040, odds ratio=3.80).

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