Identification of Ehrlichia risticii as the causative agent of two equine abortions following natural maternal infection

M. T. Long, T. E. Goetz, H. E. Whiteley, I. Kakoma, T. E. Lock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two pregnant mares diagnosed as having equine monocytic ehrlichiosis based on history, clinical signs, and high serum antibody titers to Ehrlichia risticii aborted subsequent to recovery from illness. Mare 1 and mare 2 experienced clinical illness at 120 and 143 days of gestation and aborted at 203 and 226 days of gestation, respectively. The fetuses were expelled in fresh condition, and both mares retained their placentas upon abortion. Gross findings for the fetuses included meconium staining and petechiation of external surfaces. Internally, there was increased volume of feces within the small and large intestines and liver discoloration with enlargement. Microscopic findings included lymphohistiocytic enterocolitis, hepatitis, and myocarditis. Lymphoid hyperplasia and depletion were present in spleen, thymus, and lymph nodes. Ehrlichia risticii was recovered from bone marrow, spleen, lymph node, colon, and liver of the first fetus and bone marrow and colon of the second fetus. Electron microscopic evaluation of the organism isolated in cell culture revealed morphology consistent with E. risticii. The isolated organism was inoculated into a naive pony, and this pony developed high levels of antibody against E. risticii, became ehrlichemic, and developed clinical signs of depression, anorexia, and mild diarrhea. These findings confirm that E. risticii is an abortifacient under conditions of natural infection and should be considered as a differential diagnosis of equine abortions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-205
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


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