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21st January 2007

Rattles in Foals

Officially known as rhodococcus equi – is one of the major causes of pneumonia in young foals.

It is one of the most common diseases affecting foals and can be fatal.

Faecal contamination and dust are thought to be the main causes of infection and Australia’s drought conditions have heightened the risks.

So far no effective vaccines have been developed to combat the problem but a good deal of research has been done on management techniques to minimise risks and aid diagnosis.

For those owners and breeders interested to learn more about rattles in horses RIRDC, Canberra, has recently published a booklet on the subject.

There are no symptoms early in the disease but over time the foals develop poor condition noted by weight loss and a coarse hair coat, and some foals may cough. Once the disease becomes well established it is difficult to treat effectively. The treatment is expensive and requires a prolonged course of treatment.

This study gives stud owners, managers and veterinarians a better understanding of how the disease is spread to foals and will help in preventing it.

Rattles in Horses is available for download at: http://www.rirdc.gov.au

A bound copy can be purchased from RIRDC’s eshop:
phone (02) 6272 4819
fax (02) 6272 5877

Publications number 06/097, $16.00

Article by Les Young – Sportsman 19/01/2007