Infectious necrotic hepatitis caused by Clostridium novyi type B in a horse: case report and review of the literature

Carol A Nyaoke, Mauricio A. Navarro, Juliann Beingesser, Francisco A Uzal

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4 Scopus citations


A 14-y-old bay Quarter Horse gelding was presented with progressive neurologic signs, elevated rectal temperature, and icterus for 3 d prior to death. Postmortem examination revealed icterus, large amounts of serosanguineous fluid in the abdominal cavity, widespread petechiae and ecchymoses in several organs, and a large, pale, and well-demarcated focus of necrosis in the liver. Histologically, there was coagulative necrosis surrounded by a rim of inflammatory cells and large numbers of gram-positive rods, which were identified as Clostridium novyi by immunohistochemistry. Liver samples tested by PCR were positive for C. novyi type B flagellin and alpha toxin genes, but negative for Clostridium haemolyticum and other clostridia. Based on postmortem findings and ancillary tests, a definitive diagnosis of infectious necrotic hepatitis (INH) was made. Mostly a disease of ruminants, also known as black disease, INH has rarely been reported in horses, and a definitive etiologic diagnosis has not been achieved previously; the etiology of all cases reported to date was identified as C. novyi but the type was not determined. Animals are predisposed to clostridial hepatitis when hepatic anaerobiosis is established. Such conditions allow germination and proliferation of bacterial spores, resulting in production and release of toxins. INH, caused by C. novyi type B, and bacillary hemoglobinuria, caused by C. haemolyticum, are mechanistically and pathologically almost indistinguishable. Because these 2 microorganisms are closely related, differentiation requires molecular tools.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-299
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018


  • Black disease
  • Clostridium novyi type B
  • horses
  • infectious necrotic hepatitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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