Transfusion of hyperimmune plasma for protecting foals against Rhodococcus equi pneumonia. Academic Article uri icon


  • The bacterium Rhodococcus equi causes pneumonia in foals that is prevalent at breeding farms worldwide. In the absence of an effective vaccine, transfusion of commercial plasma from donor horses hyperimmunised against R. equi is used by many farms to reduce the incidence of pneumonia among foals at farms where the disease is endemic. The effectiveness of hyperimmune plasma for controlling R. equi pneumonia in foals has varied considerably among reports. The purposes of this narrative review are: (1) to review early studies that provided a foundational basis for the practice of transfusion of hyperimmune plasma that is widespread in the United States and in many other countries; (2) to summarise current knowledge of hyperimmune plasma for preventing R. equi pneumonia; (3) to provide an interpretive summary of probable explanations for the variable results among studies evaluating the effectiveness of transfusion of hyperimmune plasma for reducing the incidence of R. equi pneumonia; (4) to review mechanisms by which hyperimmune plasma might mediate protection; and (5) to consider risks of transfusing foals with hyperimmune plasma. Although the weight of evidence supports the practice of transfusing foals with hyperimmune plasma to prevent R. equi pneumonia, many important gaps in our knowledge of this topic remain including the volume/dose of hyperimmune plasma to be transfused, the timing(s) of transfusion, and the mechanism(s) by which hyperimmune plasma mediates protection. Transfusing foals with hyperimmune plasma is expensive, labour-intensive, and carries risks for foals; therefore, alternative approaches for passive and active immunisation to prevent R. equi pneumonia are greatly needed.

published proceedings

  • Equine Vet J

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Kahn, S. K., Cohen, N. D., Bordin, A. I., Coleman, M. C., Heird, J. C., & Welsh, T. H.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Kahn, Susanne K||Cohen, Noah D||Bordin, Angela I||Coleman, Michelle C||Heird, James C||Welsh, Thomas H

publication date

  • May 2023