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Saving the Septic Foal

Sepsis is an extreme systemic inflammatory response which develops when a foal becomes infiltrated with bacteria and infection spreads unchecked through its body. The most common bacteria seen in septic foals (about 60 to 70 per cent of cases) are E. coli; others often identified include klebsiella and actinobacillus. Cases with enterobacter, salmonella, pseudomonas and streptococcus have also been seen. The bacteria can enter the foal’s body through the placenta, at the umbilicus, or through the nose or mouth. The foals at greatest risk are those which don’t receive the antibody-rich first milk (colostrum) from their dams. Foals are born with the ability to develop antibodies, but without any already present, they are vulnerable to infections. The colostrum contains high levels of antibodies to the bacteria that the mare has been exposed to, so those early feedings are extremely important. In most cases, the foal nurses soon after birth and…

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