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Rhodococcus equi-specific hyperimmune plasma administration decreases faecal shedding of pathogenic R. equi in foals
  1. Macarena G Sanz1,
  2. Daniel S Bradway2,
  3. David W Horohov3 and
  4. Timothy V Baszler2
  1. 1 Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
  2. 2 Veterinary Microbiology and Pathology, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
  3. 3 Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA
  1. E-mail for correspondence; macarena{at}


Rhodococcus equi is the most common cause of pneumonia in young foals. Pneumonic foals are an important source of environmental contamination as they shed higher amounts of R. equi in their faeces than unaffected foals. As R. equi-specific hyperimmune plasma (HIP) lessens clinical pneumonia, we hypothesise that its use would result in decreased faecal shedding of R. equi by foals. Neonatal foals were either given HIP (n=12) or nothing (n=9, control) shortly after birth and were then experimentally infected with R. equi. Faeces were collected before and on weeks 2, 3, 5 and 7 after infection. Presence of virulent R. equi was tested using qPCR. There was strong evidence of an association between HIP administration and a decrease in faecal shedding of virulent R. equi (P=0.031 by Pearson chi-squared test). Foals in the control shed significantly more R. equi (colony-forming units/ml) than foals that received HIP (P=0.008 by Mann-Whitney rank-sum test). While our study is the first to report this additional benefit of HIP administration, future studies are needed to evaluate the implications of its use under field conditions.

  • foal
  • hyperimmune plasma
  • pneumonia
  • Rhodococcus equi
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  • Funding This study was funded by the Advancement in Equine Research Award, Boehringer Ingelheim.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval All work was approved by the University of Kentucky’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and the Institutional Biosafety Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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