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Equine Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia Associated with Clostridium perfringens Infection

Weiss, Douglas J., Moritz, Andreas
Veterinary clinical pathology 2003 v.32 no.1 pp. 22-26
Clostridium perfringens, abscess, absorbance, agglutination, databases, drugs, erythrocyte count, geldings, genotype, hemolysis, hemolytic anemia, hospitals, myositis, neck, penicillins, pulmonary emphysema, reticulocytes, Minnesota
Background: Previous studies have suggested an association between equine immune-mediated hemolytic anemia and clostridial infections or neck abscesses. Objective: The purpose of this report was to describe and characterize the hematologic abnormalities in a horse with Clostridium-associated immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. We also retrospectively evaluated hematologic abnormalities in 8 horses with clostridial myositis or subcutaneous emphysema. Methods: A 7-year-old Foreign Warm-Blood gelding was evaluated for anemia and a cervical abscess. CBCs and reticulocyte counts were obtained using an Advia 120 analyzer and evaluation of Wright's-stained smears. All cases of equine Clostridium spp. myositis or subcutaneous emphysema over a 7-year period were identified in a retrospective search of the University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital database. Clinical, hematologic, and microbiological findings were recorded. Results: Clostridium perfringens genotype A was isolated from the neck wound of the gelding. The CBC was characterized by severe regenerative anemia, intravascular hemolysis, and RBC agglutination. A direct Coombs' test was positive. Moderate numbers of spheroechinocytes were observed. The total automated reticulocyte count was 4.5% (56,700/μL), with most reticulocytes having low absorbance (mature reticulocytes). The anemia responded to penicillin and steroidal and nonsteroidal immunosuppressive drugs. Of 8 horses with myositis, all of which involved the cervical region, 5 were anemic, 1 had a positive direct Coombs' test, and 2 had increased numbers of type III echinocytes and spheroechinocytes Conclusions: The presence of type III echinocytes or spheroechinocytes may be helpful in diagnosing immune-mediated hemolytic anemia associated with clostridial infections in horses. Automated reticulocyte counts may detect very low levels of reticulocytosis in hemolytic anemia in horses.