16 yr old QH with Equine Colitis

In an effort to share our cases with you, I will occasionally write about some of our successes and not so successes so that we can all learn. We are always thankful that you call us to help you in your horse’s health and well-being.

A sixteen year old, quarter horse mare was recently seen for diarrhea (equine colitis) that had been persistent for two days. This mare was the only horse on the property but was near a dairy farm. When examining this mare, we identified that she was dehydrated, had an elevated heart rate, and a fever.

Blood work for a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry (CHEM) along with a serum amyloid A were collected. Serum amyloid A is a phase protein that we can now test stall side to help determine if there is an infectious or non-infectious disease process brewing. The serum amyloid A was quite elevated and we decided to insert a nasogastric tube (NG) for fluid, electrolyte, and instestinal product support administration. The NG tube remained in the horse for 24 hours in order to provide additional fluid therapy. Two types of antibiotics were also started prior to the CBC/CHEM completion. An intestinal fluid sample was also provided and a genetic test was completed to help identify the likely pathogen.

The blood work was very abnormal with kidney function compromise. The manure genetic test identified Clostridium perfringens Alpha Toxin (CPA) Gene by RealPCR. We were fortunate to provide the right medications and treat our quarter horse appropriately for a return to normal function. What is Clostridium perfringens Alpha Toxin (CPA) Gene? We do know that Clostridium perfringensorganisms may be present in soil or the environment and be ingested by horses. We do not always know why these bacteria cause disease but we assume that it is an change in the normal bacteria of the gastrointestinal tract. The bacteria then produce toxins that can cause intestinal damage. It is interesting to note that Clostridium perfringens in adult cattle has emerged sporadically over the past few years in high-producing dairy cattle in early lactation. Could our quarter horse has gotten it from the environment via the dairy cattle?

Links: Serum Amyloid A