Reasons for performing study: The incidence and implications of positive blood cultures in mature horses with diarrhoea is unknown. The diagnosis of bacteraemia may alter treatment and prognosis. Hypothesis: The proportion of horses with diarrhoea that are blood culture positive is higher than previously assumed and a positive blood culture has a negative impact on survival. Methods: Blood cultures were taken at admission and 24 h after admission from 31 mature horses with diarrhoea. Results: Nine (29%) horses were blood culture positive within 24 h of admission. Organisms isolated included Corynebacterium spp. (n = 6), Streptococcus spp. (n = 2), Pantoea agglomerans (n = 1), Gram-negative rod (n = 1), Bacillus spp. (n = 1) and yeast (n = 1). Horses with positive blood cultures were significantly less likely to survive. Prior treatment with antimicrobial drugs had no significant effect on blood culture status. Horses with positive blood cultures had a significantly higher heart rate, packed cell volume (PCV) and plasma potassium concentration at admission, and a higher PCV and lower total plasma protein concentration 24 h after admission. Conclusions: Positive blood cultures occur more frequently than previously reported, and may have a negative impact on survival in horses with diarrhoea. Potential relevance: Results of blood cultures may be useful in formulating a prognosis for horses with diarrhoea. Further research is required to determine the effect of antimicrobial treatment on outcome.
- Blood culture
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