Chemoprophylactic effects of azithromycin against Rhodococcus equi-induced pneumonia among foals at equine breeding farms with endemic infections. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To determine the effect of azithromycin chemoprophylaxis on the cumulative incidence of pneumonia caused by Rhodococcus equi, age at onset of pneumonia, and minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) of azithromycin for R equi isolates cultured from fecal and clinical samples. DESIGN: Controlled, randomized clinical trial. ANIMALS: 338 foals born and raised at 10 equine breeding farms; each farm had a history of endemic R equi infections. PROCEDURES: Group 1 foals were control foals, and group 2 foals were treated with azithromycin (10 mg/kg [4.5 mg/lb], PO, q 48 h) during the first 2 weeks after birth. Foals were monitored for development of pneumonia attributable to R equi infection and for adverse effects of azithromycin. Isolates of R equi were tested for susceptibility to azithromycin. RESULTS: The proportion of R equi-affected foals was significantly higher for control foals (20.8%) than for azithromycin-treated foals (5.3%). Adverse effects of azithromycin treatment were not detected, and there were no significant differences between groups for the MICs of azithromycin for R equi isolates cultured from fecal or clinical samples. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Azithromycin chemoprophylaxis effectively reduced the cumulative incidence of pneumonia attributable to R equi among foals at breeding farms with endemic R equi infections. There was no evidence of resistance to azithromycin. Nonetheless, caution must be used because it is possible that resistance could develop with widespread use of azithromycin as a preventative treatment. Further investigation is needed before azithromycin chemoprophylaxis can be recommended for control of R equi infections.

author list (cited authors)

  • Chaffin, M. K., Cohen, N. D., & Martens, R. J.

citation count

  • 48

publication date

  • April 2008