Use of Serial Quantitative PCR of the vapA Gene of Rhodococcus equi in Feces for Early Detection of R. equi Pneumonia in Foals. Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Current screening tests for Rhodococcus equi pneumonia in foals lack adequate accuracy for clinical use. Real-time, quantitative PCR (qPCR) for virulent R. equi in feces has not been systematically evaluated as a screening test. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of qPCR for vapA in serially collected fecal samples as a screening test for R. equi pneumonia in foals. ANIMALS: One hundred and twenty-five foals born in 2011 at a ranch in Texas. METHODS: Fecal samples were collected concurrently with thoracic ultrasonography (TUS) screening examinations at ages 3, 5, and 7 weeks. Affected (pneumonic) foals (n = 25) were matched by age and date-of-birth to unaffected (n = 25) and subclinical (ie, having thoracic TUS lesions but no clinical signs of pneumonia) foals (n = 75). DNA was extracted from feces using commercial kits and concentration of virulent R. equi in feces was determined by qPCR. RESULTS: Subsequently affected foals had significantly greater concentrations of vapA in feces than foals that did not develop pneumonia (unaffected and subclinical foals) at 5 and 7 weeks of age. Accuracy of fecal qPCR, however, was poor as a screening test to differentiate foals that would develop clinical signs of pneumonia from those that would remain free of clinical signs (including foals with subclinical pulmonary lesions attributed to R. equi) using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) methods. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL IMPORTANCE: In the population studied, serial qPCR on feces lacked adequate accuracy as a screening test for clinical R. equi foal pneumonia.

published proceedings

  • J Vet Intern Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Madrigal, R. G., Shaw, S. D., Witkowski, L. A., Sisson, B. E., Blodgett, G. P., Chaffin, M. K., & Cohen, N. D.

citation count

  • 13

complete list of authors

  • Madrigal, RG||Shaw, SD||Witkowski, LA||Sisson, BE||Blodgett, GP||Chaffin, MK||Cohen, ND

publication date

  • March 2016