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University of Copenhagen
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Scientists find human germ in horses

Scientists from the University of Copenhagen find a normally human-hosted bacteria in horses' airways

A group of Danish researchers have discovered that the bacterium Stenotrophomonas maltophilia, most often affecting humans, can be associated with chronic lower airway disease in horses. It is rarely found to cause infection in animals, and has only once before been found in horses.

The bacterium most often affects people with an already compromised immune system.

Lotte Winther, Ph.D. student at the Department of Large Animal Sciences, Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen (U of C), and her colleagues collected data from seven horses with respiratory infection from which the bacterium was cultured. They all had chronic coughing in common, and mucus and pus in the windpipe was noted during endoscopic examinations.

Tough bug

DNA testing proved that the seven horses were infected with the same or very similar types of S. maltophilia. The team also found the bacterium to be resistant to antibiotics, including all penicillins.

They stressed using broad-spectrum antibiotics instead:

»Prolonged administration of tetracyclines (greater than 10 to 14 days) is an effective treatment, especially for adult horses.«

The data collected suggests that S. maltophilia could be diagnosed in horses with large amounts of pus in their windpipes.

For further information, read the study Association of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia infection with lower airway disease in the horse: A retrospective case series, which will be published in an upcoming issue of The Veterinary Journal.

The summary is available here.