Equine ehrlichiosis in northern California: 49 cases (1968-1981)

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1987 Feb 15;190(4):445-8.


Case records of horses with equine ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia equi) at the University of California Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and Ackerman Creek Large Animal Clinic were analyzed for evaluation of clinical signs, time of onset, hematologic values, response to treatment, and recovery. Equine ehrlichiosis was found to be seasonal in horses in the foothills of northern California, with higher incidence than reported previously. The horses developed fever, anorexia, depression, limb edema, icterus, and ataxia. Hematologic changes were leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, icterus, anemia, and inclusion bodies in the neutrophils and eosinophils. Diagnosis was made by observing the characteristic inclusion bodies, using a standard Wright's stain. Mortality was low, although complications of opportunistic secondary infection and injury due to ataxia did develop. Treatment with tetracycline resulted in prompt clinical improvement within 24 hours. Chronic cases were not detected. Equine ehrlichiosis should be differentiated from diseases with similar clinical signs including encephalitis, liver disease, purpura hemorrhagica, equine infectious anemia, and equine viral arteritis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • California
  • Ehrlichia / ultrastructure
  • Horse Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Horses
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / epidemiology
  • Rickettsiaceae Infections / veterinary*
  • Seasons