The prevalence and epidemiology of important viral (equine influenza virus [EIV], equine herpesvirus type 1 [EHV-1] and EHV-4) and bacterial (Streptococcus equi subspecies equi) respiratory pathogens shed by horses presented to equine veterinarians with upper respiratory tract signs and/or acute febrile neurological disease were studied. Veterinarians from throughout the USA were enrolled in a surveillance programme and were asked to collect blood and nasal secretions from equine cases with acute infectious upper respiratory tract disease and/or acute onset of neurological disease. A questionnaire was used to collect information pertaining to each case and its clinical signs. Samples were tested by real-time PCR for the presence of EHV-1, EHV-4, EIV and S equi subspecies equi. A total of 761 horses, mules and donkeys were enrolled in the surveillance programme over a 24-month study period. In total, 201 (26.4 per cent) index cases tested PCR-positive for one or more of the four pathogens. The highest detection rate was for EHV-4 (82 cases), followed by EIV (60 cases), S equi subspecies equi (49 cases) and EHV-1 (23 cases). There were 15 horses with double infections and one horse with a triple infection. The detection rate by PCR for the different pathogens varied with season and with the age, breed, sex and use of the animal.
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