Page 6 - XLEquine - Plan Prevent Protect - Biosecurity Booklet

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Rotavirus diarrhoea
Disease causing agent
Age affected
from 3 days to 5 months
Incubation period
3-10 days
via ingestion of contaminated faeces or dust
highly contagious, high levels of virus in the faeces of infected animals
Signs you will see
diarrhoea, reluctant to suck, depression, fever, collapse
younger foals generally show more severe symptoms
faecal sample to detect virus
supportive care and fluid therapy to prevent dehydration
pregnant mares can be vaccinated to improve foal immunity via
antibodies in colostrum
affected foals should be isolated, faeces cleared and the environment
disinfected where possible
Contagious diseases of foals
Foals are born with poorly developed immune systems; because antibodies cannot cross the equine placenta. Early disease protection is reliant
on the transfer of antibodies from the mare via the colostrum or first milk. The foal’s gut is only able to absorb these antibodies in the first twelve
hours of life, which is why it is vital foals suckle vigorously soon after birth. Failure to do so will result in low levels of antibodies known as ‘
of passive transfer
’making them more susceptible to potentially fatal infections in the first few weeks of life. The condition of a sick foal can
deteriorate extremely rapidly so it is important that any condition is rapidly investigated and treated by a veterinary surgeon.
The following three diseases are seen specifically in foals and weanlings (particularly those housed on large yards) and do not affect the
adult horse.
Rhodococcus pneumonia
Disease causing agent
Rhodococcus equi
Age affected
between 3 and 24 weeks, with 4 months being most common
Incubation period
3-4 weeks
ingestion of bacteria from infected faeces and contaminated fields or
Rhodococcus equi
can be cultured in the environment of the majority of
yards yet disease more prevalent on some yards than others
Signs you will see
failure to thrive
pneumonia: fever, lethargy, poor appetite, cough and rapid breathing
with nostril flare and increased effort
diarrhoea, joint infection and eye problems may also be seen
detection of abscesses in the lungs and identification of the bacteria in
respiratory mucus
specific antibiotics given for 3-12 weeks
affected foals should be isolated
early screening for the bacteria is recommended on farms with known
reducing stocking levels, removing faeces from paddocks and limiting
airborne dust levels may help reduce incidence
Rotavirus causes infectious
diarrhoea in foals
A foal undergoing treatment for
(photo courtesy of Celia Marr,
Rossdales Veterinary Surgeons)
Plan. Prevent. Protect