Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection in horses: 538 cases (1982-1993)

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Objective: To describe clinical manifestations of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection in horses and to evaluate diagnostic methods for identification of this disease. Design: Retrospective case series. Animals: 538 horses with a diagnosis of C pseudotuberculosis infection. Results: Median age of horses with external abscesses was similar to that in horses with internal abscesses. Breed and sex did not appear to be associated with infection. Cases were detected during all 12 months; however, the disease was most common in the fall and early winter, with the highest incidence in September, October, and November in every year. Most horses (492/538, 91.4%) had a single episode of infection, without recurrence in subsequent years. Of 538 horses, 308 had pectoral abscesses, although infection was documented in many other anatomic locations. Forty-two horses had internal abscesses involving the abdomen or thoracic cavity. Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis infection was readily identified by bacterial culture of aspirate samples from abscesses. The synergistic hemolysis inhibition test was useful for diagnosis of internal abscesses however, it was unreliable for the diagnosis of external abscesses. Horses with external abscesses responded well to conventional treatment in contrast to those with internal abscesses. The overall case fatality was low (3.9%) and was considerably lower for horses with external abscesses (0.8%) than for horses with internal abscesses (40.5%). Clinical Implications: Serology (synergistic hemolysis inhibition titers ≤ 512) is useful for diagnosis of internal abscesses, but not reliable for diagnosis in horses with external abscesses. Prognosis for horses with internal abscesses is considerably poorer than for those with external abscesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)804-809
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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