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Deciphering Equine Infections: Insights from Blood Lab Indicators

Updated: Jul 9, 2023


When it comes to the health of our equine companions, early detection and diagnosis of infections are vital for effective treatment. The use of blood lab indicators plays a crucial role in identifying whether a horse is affected by a viral or bacterial infection. In this blog, we will explore the key indicators used in equine diagnostics, shedding light on how veterinarians decipher the presence of infections in horses.

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC): A Complete Blood Count provides valuable information about the overall health of a horse. It includes measurements of various blood components, such as red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. In the case of infections:

a. Viral Infections:

  • Decreased WBC count: Some viral infections can lead to a decrease in the number of white blood cells, specifically lymphocytes.

  • Normal or slightly decreased RBC count: Viral infections generally do not directly affect red blood cells.

  • Platelet count within normal range: Platelets are typically unaffected by viral infections.

b. Bacterial Infections:

  • Elevated WBC count: Bacterial infections often trigger an increase in the number of white blood cells, especially neutrophils.

  • Normal or slightly decreased RBC count: Similar to viral infections, bacteria generally do not directly affect red blood cells.

  • Normal or slightly decreased platelet count: Platelet levels remain relatively stable in bacterial infections.

  1. C-Reactive Protein (CRP): C-Reactive Protein is an acute-phase reactant that rises in response to inflammation. Monitoring CRP levels aids in identifying the severity and progression of an infection. In the context of equine infections:

a. Viral Infections:

  • CRP levels generally remain within the reference range or may exhibit only a minor increase.

b. Bacterial Infections:

  • Significant elevation in CRP levels: Bacterial infections stimulate a robust inflammatory response, resulting in a substantial increase in CRP concentration.

  1. Fibrinogen: Fibrinogen is a protein involved in the blood clotting process. Elevated levels of fibrinogen indicate inflammation or tissue damage, which can be associated with infections.

a. Viral Infections:

  • Fibrinogen levels usually remain within the reference range or show only a slight increase.

b. Bacterial Infections:

  • Markedly elevated fibrinogen levels: Bacterial infections induce a strong inflammatory response, leading to an increase in fibrinogen concentration.

  1. Serum Amyloid A (SAA): Serum Amyloid A is another acute-phase protein that rises in response to inflammation. It is a sensitive indicator of ongoing infection and aids in monitoring the effectiveness of treatment.

a. Viral Infections:

  • SAA levels may remain normal or exhibit a minor increase.

b. Bacterial Infections:

  • Significant elevation in SAA levels: Bacterial infections trigger a pronounced inflammatory response, resulting in a considerable rise in SAA concentration.

Conclusion: Blood lab indicators are invaluable tools for veterinarians when assessing the health status of horses and detecting viral or bacterial infections. By analyzing the Complete Blood Count, C-Reactive Protein, Fibrinogen, and Serum Amyloid A levels, veterinarians can gain insight into the type of infection present and tailor appropriate treatment plans. Remember, prompt diagnosis and treatment significantly enhance the chances of a successful recovery and the overall well-being of our equine friends. Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for educational purposes only and should not replace professional veterinary advice. If you suspect your horse may be infected, consult a qualified veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment options.





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