Breath sampling for prediction of Rhodococcus equi infection in neonatal foals


This prospective study is investigating whether Rhodococcus equi (R.equi) is exhaled in the breath of neonatal foals on a farm endemically affected by R equi. Utilising a portable air sampling device containing selective agar plates, the respiratory zones of 55 foals between the ages of 2 and 7 days have been sampled throughout the 2007 thoroughbred breeding season. The samples have been bacteriologically cultured, and DNA hybridisation techniques are to be used to detect and quantify virulent R equi in the exhaled breath. Serum samples for detection of passive transfer of immunity were taken from all foals in the sample group at 1224 hours of age. Foals were reexamined at 56 weeks of age by thoracic ultrasonography, haematology and repeat breath sampling for detection of R equi infection.


Thoroughbred Horses

Research Organisation

Scone Equine Hospital

Objective Summary

The objectives of this project are to determine whether: 1) virulent R equi is detectably exhaled by neonatal foals using a noninvasive, portable air sampling device; 2) the amount of virulent R equi exhaled by neonates, if any, is significant in relation to the overall environmental burden with the organism as detected by the portable air sampler; 3) there is any relationship between the amount of R equi detectably exhaled by neonatal foals and the subsequent development of R equi related disease in individual foals; 4) foals at 56 weeks of age detectably exhale virulent R equi; and 5) there is a correlation between the amount of R equi exhaled by 56 week old foals and

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Project Completion Date

Friday, April 30, 2010

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

HOR-Reduce the incidence and impact of diseases and parasites in horses


Related publications


Rattles in Foals: Breath sampling in neonatal foals for prediction of Rhodococcus equi infection