Virulent Rhodococcus equi decontamination strategies on horse farms


An investigation into potential disinfectant agents that could be used on farms to reduce environmental virulent Rhodococcus equi burdens.


Dr Gary Muscatello

Research Location

Sydney School of Veterinary Science

Program Type



The aim of this project is to investigate disinfectant agents (such as, lime, chlorine and the common phenols and quaternary ammonia compounds) that could be used in the field to effectively kill virulent Rhodococcus equi. The experiments will commence by examining the effects of the various agents on the growth of virulent R. equi under standard culture condition, then evaluating their impact on the growth of virulent R. equi in inoculated soil samples from Thoroughbred breeding farms in the Hunter Valley. Bacterial growth will be evaluated using standard spectrophotometer methods complemented by direct dilution plating and PCR analysis to evaluate virulence of the organism. Once the laboratory findings have been evaluated, evaluation of the agent(s) in the field will be contacted. In this process the agent(s) impact will be evaluated through seasonal monitoring of the bacterial levels and the prevalence of R. equi pneumonia on participating farms. Safety issues will also be assesses in a small scale study on horse environments at the Camden campus.At the conclusion of this project, findings will indicate whether disinfectant agents could be used to reduce the concentration of virulent R. equi on Thoroughbred breeding farms and it may result in the production of national and internationally recognized management practices to reduce the significance of R. equi pneumonia in the equine breeding world.

Additional Information

Currently a pilot project in this field is funded through an internal Faculty of Veterinary Science grant, with plans to apply for more funding in 2009 and beyond.

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microbiology, equine, Infectious Disease, virulent, bacterial, farm, health, Thoroughbred, horse, disinfectants, Rhodococcus equi, decontamination, pneumonia, PCR analysis, spectrophotometer, safety, management practice, seasonal monitoring

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 502

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