Serial use of serologic assays and fecal PCR assays to aid in identification of subclinical Lawsonia intracellularis infection for targeted treatment of Thoroughbred foals and weanlings

Allen E Page, Nathan M Slovis, Connie J Gebhart, Karen Wolfsdorf, Samantha M Mapes, Nicola Pusterla

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21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the serial use of serum immunoperoxidase monolayer assays (IPMAs) and fecal PCR assays, combined with other diagnostic methods, to identify subclinical Lawsonia intracellularis infections for targeted treatment of Thoroughbred foals and weanlings at farms in which the pathogen was endemic or nonendemic.

DESIGN: Evaluation study.

ANIMALS: 100 foals and weanlings (53 and 47 at farms in which L intracellularis was endemic and nonendemic, respectively).

PROCEDURES: Serum was collected every 4 weeks and tested via IPMA, for antibodies against L intracellularis. Fecal samples were collected every 2 weeks and tested by use of an L intracellularis-specific PCR assay. When results for IPMAs or PCR assays were positive or clinical signs compatible with equine proliferative enteropathy (EPE) were detected, clinicopathologic testing was performed to determine treatment.

RESULTS: No foals had positive results for the L intracellularis-specific IPMA until after weaning; 32 of 53 (60.4%) weanlings at the farm in which L intracellularis was endemic and 8 of 47 (170%) at the farm in which L intracellularis was nonendemic had positive IPMA results, whereas the number of weanlings that tested positive via fecal PCR assays at those farms was 6 and 0, respectively. Nineteen of 32 weanlings with positive IPMA results at the farm in which L intracellularis was endemic were treated for EPE; 5 of these had clinical signs of EPE. No weanlings at the nonendemic farm had clinical signs of or were treated for EPE.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: IPMA appeared to be a useful means of identifying weanlings exposed to L intracellularis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1482-9
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2011


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antibodies, Bacterial/blood
  • Desulfovibrionaceae Infections/diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Feces/microbiology
  • Female
  • Horse Diseases/diagnosis
  • Horses
  • Lawsonia Bacteria/immunology
  • Male
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction/veterinary
  • Serologic Tests/veterinary

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