Elite Equine and Salmonella Infection

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Heather Smith Thomas, horse trainer and author of Care And Management Of Horses, writes:

 Salmonellosis affects humans, horses, most mammals, and birds. It can cause debilitating – and even deadly – diarrhoea. Salmonella bacteria can affect both foals and adults, and they spread easily by horse-to-horse contact and sharing tools, water buckets, hands, etc., on which bacteria can “hitch a ride” to the next victim.  Seemingly well horses can harbour the bacteria, and when stressed, they can shed it or become ill. 

 A foal with septicaemia is dull and depressed, with high fever, and can die within 24 to 48 hours. Acute enteritis is the most common sign in adults, with fever and severe diarrhoea. The watery diarrhoea has a rotten smell and often contains mucus, and sometimes blood. Severe dehydration and toxaemia occur, and the animal can become very weak. Salmonella can also cause localized infections.

 If a horse’s immune system is compromised when he is exposed to Salmonella, he is at higher risk.

 Salmonella bacteria can cause illness and even death in foals and adults. However, good general hygiene and management techniques can help prevent problems in your horses:


·         If a horse develops diarrhoea, isolate that animal immediately. 

·         Take care to not touch something another person might touch, thereby transmitting salmonella to a healthy horse.

·         If you aren’t careful about your feet, you may track bacteria (from watery faeces on the ground or floor where you might not see it) to a clean area.

·         The ideal situation is to move the sick horse to a separate quarantine barn; only sick animals with the same disease go there. 

·         After the animal is moved to the sick barn, the stall or pen it was in should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.

·         Buy a box of latex gloves and wear a new pair every time you handle an animal or take its temperature.”

·         If a horse gets salmonellosis, other horses should be closely monitored. 

·         Keep groups together; don’t mix horses that have not lived together. 

·         For a big group, put temporary fencing in the pasture they lived in, segregating them into smaller groups. 

It is a controversial and matter of clinician preference whether adult horses with salmonellosis should receive antibiotics. 

 Primary treatment for a Salmonella infection is good supportive care and fluid therapy as these horses get very dehydrated, with electrolyte and acid/base disturbances. Fluid and electrolytes are crucial, along with colloids or plasma, if they need it. They lose a lot of protein through the inflamed colon. 

 Strategic anti-inflammatory treatments are also recommended.” [1]

 Elite Equine 100% Organic Rosehip Supplement builds up the immune system and provides the anti-inflammatory support that any infected horse may need.