Horses and “Pigeon Fever”

Contributed by Ashleigh Flores, M.S.

Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis biovar equi is responsible for the highly contagious disease in horses commonly known as “Pigeon Fever”. Although flies act as the primary vector, soil serves as a reservoir for this robust microorganism. Research has shown that C. pseudotuberculosis can persist in soil for months at a time, particularly in dry, arid environments. When manure contacts soil laden with the bacteria, survival and growth rates increase due to the additional micronutrients available in feces. The ability of C. pseudotuberculosis to survive under an array of environmental conditions along with its slow growth rate, make it a challenge to treat and prevent. Further research is needed to enhance treatment and prevention methods available in the clinical setting.

Spier SJ, Toth B, Edman J, et al. Survival of Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis biovar equi in soil. Vet Rec. 2012;170(7):180. doi:10.1136/vr.100543

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