Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


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Huber L, Giguère S, Berghaus LJ, Hanafi A, Vitosh-Sillman S, Czerwinski SL (2018) Development of septic polysynovitis and uveitis in foals experimentally infected with Rhodococcus equi. PLoS ONE 13(2): e0192655. 10.1371/journal.pone.0192655


© 2018 Huber et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.


Rhodococcus equi is one of the most important causes of disease in foals. Infection is typically characterized by pyogranulomatous pneumonia although extrapulmonary infections occur occasionally. Uveitis and polysynovitis have been reported in foals naturally infected with R. equi and are thought to be the result of an immune-mediated process. However, the pathogenesis of these conditions is poorly understood. The objectives of this study were to document the occurrence of uveitis and polysynovitis after experimental infection with R. equi and to determine if these disorders are the direct result of infection at these sites. Foals between 3 and 4 weeks of age were infected intratracheally with virulent R. equi using inocula of 1×108 CFU (high inoculum; n = 16) or 1×107 CFU (low inoculum; n = 12). Foals were monitored twice daily and necropsy was performed 14 days post-infection. Aqueous humor and synovial fluid were collected aseptically and the percentage of affected lung was calculated. The mean (± SD) percentage of affected lung was significantly higher with the high inoculum (31.8 ± 14.6%) than with the low inoculum (14.4 ± 11.4%). Fourteen of 25 foals developed uveitis and 20 of 28 foals developed polysynovitis. R. equi was cultured from the aqueous humor of 11 foals and from the synovial fluid of 14 foals. The risk of development of polysynovitis and protein concentration in the aqueous humor were significantly higher in foals that received the high inoculum. These results indicate that polysynovitis and uveitis are septic complications associated with the severity of lung disease.