Antimicrobial Susceptibilities of Aerobic Isolates from Respiratory Samples of Young New Zealand Horses

Decreased efficacy of antimicrobials and increased prevalence of multidrug resistance (MDR) is of concern worldwide. The objective of this study was to describe and analyze bacterial culture and antimicrobial susceptibilities from respiratory samples submitted from young horses (4 weeks to 3 years old). Samples taken from 289 horses were submitted to a commercial laboratory using a retrospective database search of submissions made to a New Zealand veterinary laboratory between April 2004 and July 2014. The results of in vitro susceptibility testing by Kirby-Bauer disc diffusion were described and tabulated for the major bacterial species isolated. Multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) was used to describe the clustering of MDR isolates and selected demographic variables.

Overall, 774 bacterial isolates were cultured from 237 horses, the majority of these isolates were gram-positive (67.6%; 95% CI 64.3–70.9%). Streptococcus spp. were the most common genus of bacteria isolated and were 40.1% (95% CI 36.6–43.5%) of the isolates cultured. Susceptibility of Streptococcus spp. to penicillin, gentamicin, and ceftiofur was >85%. Overall, gram-negative susceptibility to ceftiofur, tetracycline, and TMPS was <75%. MDR was defined as resistance to 3 or more antimicrobials, and was found in 39.2% of horses (93/237; 95% CI 33.0–45.5%).

In conclusion, culture and susceptibility results have highlighted that MDR is an emerging problem for young horses in New Zealand (NZ), where a bacterial respiratory infection is suspected. This should be considered when prescribing antimicrobials, and emphasizes the need for submission of samples for culture and susceptibility.

Click here to be directed to the study in the Journal of Internal Medicine.