Equine ulcerative keratitis in the Netherlands (2012-2021): Bacterial and fungal isolates and antibiotic susceptibility

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Abstract

Background: Ulcerative keratitis is a common ophthalmic disease in horses which can be complicated by microbial infection and requires immediate, accurate treatment to prevent loss of visual function or the eye. Objectives: To report the results of microbial cultures, antibiotic susceptibility tests and corneal cytology in horses with ulcerative keratitis presented to a referral clinic, to assess agreement between cytology and culture results, to investigate whether previous topical treatment affected microbial culture results and whether the incidence of antimicrobial resistance changed during the study period. Study design: Retrospective analysis. Methods: Case characteristics and results of cytology and microbial cultures were retrieved. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics, χ2 or Fisher's exact test and McNemar test. Results: Samples for bacterial culturing (n = 187), fungal culturing (n = 153) and cytology (n = 153) were collected from 178 horses. Bacterial and fungal cultures were positive in 36% (n = 67) and 20% (n = 30), respectively. Staphylococcus (n = 35/67; 48%), Streptococcus (n = 12/67; 16%) and Aspergillus species (n = 22/30; 81%) were most frequently found. Microorganisms were observed in 14% of cytology samples (n = 22/153). Acquired antibiotic resistance was commonly observed amongst Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species. Acquired antibiotic resistance to gentamicin was more common in cases previously treated with gentamicin (p < 0.001). The incidence of acquired antibiotic resistance did not increase significantly between Cohort 2012–2017 and Cohort 2018–2021. Neither bacterial nor fungal culturing results were in agreement with cytology findings (p < 0.001 and p = 0.02, respectively). In 6 of 104 samples that were negative on fungal culturing, cytology revealed fungal elements. Main limitations: Due to the retrospective nature of this study, some case characteristics and test results were unavailable. Conclusions: Acquired resistance was commonly observed amongst Streptococcus and Staphylococcus species, and in bacteria previously exposed to topical gentamicin. The incidence of acquired antibiotic resistance did not increase over time. When fungal cultures prove negative, cytology may have some added benefit in identifying keratomycosis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • antibiotic resistance
  • cornea
  • cytology
  • horse

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