Severe acute rhabdomyolysis associated with Streptococcus equi infection in four horses

Beatrice T. Sponseller, Stephanie J. Valberg, Brett S. Tennent-Brown, Jonathan H. Foreman, Pawan Kumar, John F. Timoney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Four Quarter Horses (9 months to 7 years of age) with submandibular lymphadenopathy and firm muscles (palpation of which elicited signs of pain) were evaluated; in general, the horses had a stiff gait, and 3 horses became recumbent. Streptococcus equi was cultured from aspirates of lymph nodes or samples of purulent material collected from the auditory tube diverticula. Once the horses were recumbent, their condition deteriorated rapidly despite aggressive antimicrobial and antiinflammatory treatment, necessitating euthanasia within 24 to 48 hours. One horse did not become recumbent and recovered completely. Among the 4 horses, common clinicopathologic findings included neutrophilia, hyperfibrinogenemia, and high serum activities of creatine kinase and aspartate aminotransferase. Necropsies of the 3 euthanatized horses revealed large, pale areas most prominent in the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, sublumbar, and gluteal muscles that were characterized histologically by severe acute myonecrosis and macrophage infiltration of necrotic myofibers. Streptococcus equi was identified in sections of affected muscle by use of immunofluorescent stains for Lancefield group C carbohydrate and S equi M protein. In the 4 horses of this report, acute severe rhabdomyolysis without clinical evidence of muscle atrophy or infarction was associated with S equi infection; rhabdomyolysis was attributed to either an inflammatory cascade resembling streptococcal toxic shock or potentially direct toxic effects of S equi within muscle tissue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1800-1807+1753-1754
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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