Schoster, Angelika3; Arroyo, Luis Guillermo4; Staempfli, Henry Rolf4; Shewen, Patricia Elisabeth4; Weese, Jeffrey Scott4
1 Section of Microbiology, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 University of Guelph3 Section of Microbiology, Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 University of Guelph
BACKGROUND: Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens are commonly associated with colitis in equids, but healthy carriers exist. Scarce information is available on the prevalence of Clostridium spp. in gastrointestinal compartments other than faeces in healthy horses, and it is unknown whether faecal samples are representative of proximal compartments. The objectives were to investigate the prevalence of C. difficile and C. perfringens in different intestinal compartments of healthy adult horses and to determine whether faecal samples are representative of colonization in proximal sites and overall carrier status. RESULTS: Toxigenic C. difficile was isolated from 14/135 (10.3%) samples from 8/15 (53.3%) horses. Between zero and three sites were positive per horse, and multiple sites were positive in four horses. Isolates were recovered from duodenum, jejunum, ileum, right dorsal colon, small colon and rectum. When multiple compartments were positive in a single horse, two different C. difficile ribotypes were always present. Clostridium perfringens Type A (CPE, beta2 toxin gene negative) was recovered from the left ventral colon of one horse (0.74%, 1/135 samples). Agreement between faeces and overall C. difficile carrier status was good. CONCLUSIONS: Clostridium difficile can be found in different compartments of the gastrointestinal tract of healthy horses, and multiple strains can be present in an individual horse. The prevalence of C. perfringens in healthy adult hoses was low, consistent with previous reports. Faecal samples were representative for presence of C. difficile in proximal compartments in 5/8 horses (63%) but were not representative for the specific strain.