The danger of the R. Equi bacterium

Dierenarts Ids de Boer

May 6, 2019
Ids de Boer, MA, of Veterinary Clinic Emmeloord
In April, veterinarian Ids de Boer of the Veterinary Clinic Emmeloord treated a Friesian filly infected with the Rhodococcus Equi bacterium. De Boer: ‘Last year the breeder of this foal lost a foal as a result of airway problems. So when he called to tell me that his 5-week-old filly was short of breath all the alarm bells started ringing.’


R. Equi is a bacterium found in soil all over the world. Especially yards with earlier occurrences of sick foals have an increased risk of infection. This is because germ-filled pus is coughed up from the abscesses in the lungs and after swallowing generally end up in the droppings and therefore in the field. The intake of the bacterium via soil and manure during grazing and the inhalation of infected particles of dust are the main causes of infection. Some yards are revisited by this disease year after year and therefore have a genuine operational problem.

Favourable prognosis

De Boer continues: ‘Soon after receiving the call I visited the filly and examined her. Luckily, the filly was still quite alert but indeed short of breath. Considering the death of the other foal a year earlier we decided to transport the filly immediately to the clinic for closer examinations. The lab informed us that the Rhodococcus Equi bacterium was indeed present so without delay we started the therapy consisting of a special combination of antibiotics. Thanks to our early intervention this foal´s future looks pretty good.’
The complete article by Ids de Boer, MA will be published in the June issue of Phryso.

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