Prevalence of Virulent Rhodococcus Equi in Soil from Five R. Equi-Endemic Horse-Breeding Farms and Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms of Virulence Plasmids in Isolates from Soil and Infected Foals in Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • Rhodococcus equi isolates (462) obtained from 64 soil samples collected on 5 R. equi-endemic horse-breeding farms and isolates from 100 infected foals in Texas were examined to determine the prevalence and genotypic diversity of virulence-associated plasmids. Isolates were tested for the presence of 15-17-kDa virulence-associated protein antigens (VapA) by immunoblotting and virulence-associated plasmids by PCR. Plasmid DNAs were isolated and analyzed by digestion with restriction endonucleases for estimation of size and comparison of polymorphisims. Rhodococcus equi were isolated from soil of all 5 farms; however, virulent R. equi were only isolated from 3 of the 5 farms and represented 18.8% (87 of 462) of total isolates. Of the 87 virulent soil isolates, 56 (64.5%) contained an 85-kb type I plasmid, 23 (26.4%) an 87-kb type I plasmid, 7 (8%) a newly defined 85-kb type III plasmid (Tx 43), and 1 (1.1%) a newly defined 85-kb type IV plasmid (Tx 47). Of the 100 isolates from infected foals, 96 were virulent. Of the 96 virulent isolates, 51 (53.1%) contained an 85-kb type I plasmid, 39 (40.6%) an 87-kb type I plasmid, 4 (4.2%) an 85-kb type III plasmid (Tx 43), and 2 (2.1%) an 85-kb type IV plasmid (Tx 47). There are at least 4 different R. equi virulence-associated plasmids in Texas, 2 of which have not previously been described. Based upon virulence plasmid typing, there is geographic diversity among isolates of R. equi from clinical and environmental samples on horse-breeding farms in Texas. There is not a strong correlation between the presence of virulent R. equi in farm soils and the R. equi disease status of those farms.

author list (cited authors)

  • Takai, S., Chaffin, M. K., Cohen, N. D., Hara, M., Nakamura, M., Kakuda, T., ... Martens, R. J.

citation count

  • 29

publication date

  • November 2001