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May 08, 2009 | | Comments 0

Salmonellosis in Horses

What it is Salmonellosis?

In adult horses, salmonellosis causes infectious diarrhea. Foals are at an even more critical position because an infection could quickly lead to the systemic spread of bacteria that can lead to death. This is why it is very important to protect horses of all ages against this salmonellosis.

Salmonella bacteria

Salmonella bacteria

The condition is caused by an infection of the bacteria salmonella. There are however, numerous strains of the bacteria. Some of them may even thrive in the stomachs of horses without causing illness. Under normal circumstances, salmonella in horses is managed by the good bacteria in the gut. In some cases however, horses may fall ill especially when the invading salmonella is S. typhimurium. Horses can catch salmonella through contaminated food and water.

What Can Make Salmonellosis Worse

Horses become more susceptible to salmonellosis under certain circumstances. Horses are more likely to get sick of this condition when they are already sick with some other severe medical condition. Other infections and diseases may compromise a horse’s immune system, making it unable to fight against a salmonella infection.

It is also quite likely that the improper use of antibiotics could make an infection worse. Antibiotics are often the treatment of choice for bacterial infections. When antibiotics are misused, the bacteria could learn to resist treatment. Improper use of medication include not finishing a treatment schedule, indiscriminate use of antibiotics and giving doses that are lower than prescribed.

Signs and Symptoms of Salmonellosis

Fever and colic may accompany salmonellosis. A giveaway clue however is the texture and consistency of fecal matter. The expelled waste will be extremely watery and brownish. It will also usually smell much worse than regular feces. The stomach of an infected horse may also bloat because the infection causes the lining of the gut to become inflamed. In its advanced stage, the illness will bring a horse to a very weak state. This is both due to dehydration and the gradual systemic poisoning caused by the bacteria’s endotoxins.

Progress of Infection

Horses that are ill with salmonellosis may die quickly without immediate medical attention. In some cases, horses may have diarrhea for a couple of weeks before they get worse. In severe cases though, some horses die in as short as twelve hours after the onset of diarrhea and colic symptoms.

Adult horses may actually get better through proper treatment. Some horses though that do not show any more symptoms may actually become asymptomatic carriers. In other words, they may continue to shed the bacteria in their feces even if they show no symptoms, putting other horses at risk of getting infected.

Salmonellosis is a serious and deadly condition. However with medical attention the horse can survive through the intravenous replacement of lost electrolytes and nutrients.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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