Objective: To determine whether soil concentrations of total or virulent Rhodococcus equi differed among breeding farms with and without foals with pneumonia caused by R equi.
Sample population: 37 farms in central Kentucky. Procedures-During January, March, and July 2006, the total concentration of R equi and concentration of virulent R equi were determined by use of quantitative bacteriologic culture and a colony immunoblot technique, respectively, in soil specimens obtained from farms. Differences in concentrations and proportion of virulent isolates within and among time points were compared among farms.
Results: Soil concentrations of total or virulent R equi did not vary among farms at any time point. Virulent R equi were identified in soil samples from all farms. Greater density of mares and foals was significantly associated with farms having foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi. Among farms with affected foals, there was a significant association of increased incidence of pneumonia attributable to R equi with an increase in the proportion of virulent bacteria between samples collected in March and July.
Conclusions and clinical relevance: Results indicated that virulent R equi were commonly recovered from soil of horse breeding farms in central Kentucky, regardless of the status of foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi on each farm. The incidence of foals with pneumonia attributable to R equi can be expected to be higher at farms with a greater density of mares and foals.