Scientific Journal Of King Faisal University
Basic and Applied Sciences


Scientific Journal of King Faisal University / Basic and Applied Sciences

Documentation of Proliferative Enteropathy in Foals

(Ghanim bin Mohammed Al-Ghamdi - Connie J.)


Proliferative enteropathy (PE) caused by Lawsonia intracellularis, which is an obligate intracellular bacterium, has been reported in individual horses as well as outbreaks in groups of horses. Nevertheless, the prevalence of the disease in the equine population remains unknown. Our goal was to determine the occurrence of L. intracellularis in foals in the State of Minnesota, USA. To achieve this goal, a retrospective study was performed. The hypothesis was that Lawsonia infection existed as an undiagnosed entity among foals submitted to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Minnesota. Case records of 78 foals submitted between 1990 and 1998 were reviewed. Two groups of foals were investigated. Group 1 included 44 foals representing the total number of foals ranging in age from 3-12 months which were submitted for enteric-related disorders. Group 2 included 34 foals that have the same age range but were submitted for problems unrelated to enteric disorders. Paraffin-embedded intestinal sections were examined using immunohistochemistry with a L. intracellularis-specific antibody. Two foals out of a total of 44 (5%) examined were identified as L. intracellularis positive in group 1. No L. intracellularis-positive cases were identified among foals in group 2. L. intracellularis was only detected in foals with intestinal disease. The disease may be misdiagnosed if L. intracellularis-specific testing such as immunohistochemistry is not included.