Disease features in horses with induced equine monocytic ehrlichiosis (Potomac horse fever)

Am J Vet Res. 1988 Oct;49(10):1747-51.


Fifty-five horses were inoculated IV and/or SC with materials containing Ehrlichia risticii, ie, infected whole blood, buffy coat cells, or cell culture, to study clinical and hematologic features of equine monocytic ehrlichiosis (Potomac horse fever). Major clinical and hematologic features of induced E risticii infection were biphasic increase in rectal temperature with peak increases of 38.9 C and 39.3 C on postinoculation days (PID) 5 and 12, respectively; depression; anorexia; decreased WBC count (maximal decrease of 47% on PID 12); and diarrhea from PID 14 to PID 18. Increased WBC count was an inconsistent feature, with a maximal increase of 51.5% on PID 20. During times of decreased and increased WBC counts, lymphocyte/neutrophil ratios remained fairly constant. However, not all horses had all clinical and hematologic features, and these features were present in different degrees among horses. Increased rectal temperature, depression, anorexia, and decreased WBC count were more consistent features, whereas diarrhea developed in 73% of the horses. Of 55 horses, 39 (71%) had all clinical and hematologic features of the disease (classic disease), whereas 16 (29%) horses did not have greater than or equal to 1 of these features (nonclassic disease). The E risticii titer in the blood (ehrlichemia) was maximum during the peak increase in rectal temperature. In 55 horses, mortality was 9%. Significant differences (P greater than 0.5) in clinical and hematologic features were not detected between horses that survived and those that died of E risticii infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anorexia / veterinary
  • Body Temperature
  • Diarrhea / veterinary
  • Ehrlichia / growth & development
  • Female
  • Fever / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases / blood*
  • Horse Diseases / mortality
  • Horses
  • Leukocyte Count / veterinary
  • Male
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / blood
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / mortality
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / veterinary*