This is a deadly bacterial infection that causes diarrhea and severe illness in the newborn foal. It can affect multiple foals on a premise and tends to recur year after year. The Clostridial organism is highly persistent in the environment and may survive for years. It is thought that the foal ingests the bacterial spores prior to the first ingestion of colostrum. Bacteria proliferate within the intestine, producing potent toxins that damage the gut wall and cause severe illness.
This disease is a major killer of foals within the first few days of life. The onset is extremely rapid. A foal may be healthy one day, severely ill the next day, and dead the following day. Unlike some of the other conditions, it often affects apparently healthy foals that have had successful passive transfer (IgG>800).
Signs include colic and diarrhea (often bloody). Foals rapidly stop nursing, act depressed, may show signs of colic, and rapidly go into shock.
Diagnosis requires confirmation of toxin presence in foal feces, usually through PCR tests on feces.
Treatment is very difficult. Even with intensive care, these foals are very difficult to save. The intestine is severely damaged. Chances are better at veterinary school and large private practice neonatal ICU units. These foals often will require intravenous nutrition for extended periods of time.
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Prognosis & Relevant Factors
The prognosis is guarded to poor, even with aggressive treatment and nursing care.
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