EQUUS - - Eq Medical Front -

A sin­gle in­jec­tion of a spe­cific an­tibi­otic prior to a long trailer jour­ney can pre­vent shipping fever with few po­ten­tial side ef­fects, ac­cord­ing to a new study from Ja­pan.

Ja­pan Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and Kagoshima Univer­sity re­searchers re­cently in­ves­ti­gated the po­ten­tial of the an­tibi­otic mar­bofloxacin for pre­vent­ing the res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tion known as “shipping fever,” which can de­velop when a horse is con­fined to a trailer and un­able to lower his head for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. A pre­vi­ous study had shown that a sim­i­lar an­tibi­otic, en­rofloxacin, could pre­vent shipping fever, but it was ir­ri­tat­ing, of­ten lead­ing to tis­sue necro­sis at the in­jec­tion site.

“Both en­rofloxacin and mar­bofloxacin are mem­bers of the flu­o­ro­quinolone an­tibi­otic class, which is ef­fec­tive against the bac­terium re­spon­si­ble for shipping fever and can main­tain that an­tibac­te­rial ac­tiv­ity for at least 24 hours,” ex­plains Pro­fes­sor Seiji Hobo, DVM, PhD.

For the study 48 healthy 2-year-old Thor­ough­bred race­horses were di­vided into three groups: One was treated with 2 mg/kg mar­bofloxacin, one with 5 mg/kg en­rofloxacin and one with 10 milliliter­s of saline. Within one hour of the in­jec­tions, the horses were loaded into a van and shipped for 26 con­sec­u­tive hours.

The horses were mon­i­tored dur­ing and after the trip for signs of shipping fever, in­clud­ing fever, cough or lethargy. Re­searchers also col­lected blood sam­ples be­fore and after the trip and an­a­lyzed them for lev­els of the in­flam­ma­tory marker serum amy­loid A, as well as the ra­tio of neu­trophils to lym­pho­cytes, an in­dex of bac­te­rial in­fec­tion. The data showed that the horses treated with mar­bofloxacin had sig­nif­i­cantly lower post­trans­porta­tion

neu­trophil- to-lym­pho­cyte ra­tios as well as lower lev­els of serum amy­loid A than did un­treated con­trol horses. None of the horses in the mar­bofloxac­in­treated group de­vel­oped a fever after shipping, while one of the horses in the en­rofloxacin group and two in the con­trol group did. All the study horses had also been treated with in­ter­feron-A to boost im­mune func­tion, but Hobo says sim­i­lar re­sults have since been ob­tained with­out in­ter­feron and are pend­ing pub­li­ca­tion.

This study, Hobo says, sup­ports the use of mar­bofloxacin prior to any longdis­tance shipping---a prac­tice, he em­pha­sizes, within ac­cept­able use for an­tibi­otics. “The pos­si­bil­ity that resistant bac­te­ria ap­pears by the sin­gle dose of an an­timi­cro­bial agent is ex­tremely un­likely,” he says, adding that the pre­ven­tive mea­sure isn’t needed if the trans­porta­tion time is less than 20 hours. “In past in­ves­ti­ga­tions, shipping fever is typ­i­cally ob­served 20 hours or more after the start of trans­porta­tion.”

Ref­er­ence: “Ef­fects of pre­ship­ping mar­bofloxacin ad­min­is­tra­tion on fever and blood prop­er­ties in healthy Thor­ough­breds trans­ported a long dis­tance,” The Jour­nal of Vet­eri­nary Med­i­cal Sci­ence, Oc­to­ber 2014

This study sup­ports the ad­min­is­tra­tion of mar­bofloxacin prior to shipping horses long dis­tances.

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