Blood culture is considered the gold standard test for documenting bacteraemia in patients with suspected bacterial sepsis in veterinary and human medicine. However, blood culture often fails to yield bacterial growth even though the clinical picture is strongly suggestive of bacterial sepsis, or contaminating organisms can overgrow the true pathogen, making accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of this life-threatening condition very challenging. Methodology for collecting blood cultures in equine medicine, and even in human hospitals, is not standardised, and many variables can affect the yield and type of microorganisms cultured. Microbiological culture techniques used in the laboratory and specific sample collection techniques, including volume of blood collected, aseptic technique utilised, and the site, timing and frequency of sample collection, all have substantial impact on the accuracy of blood culture results. In addition, patient-specific factors such as husbandry factors, the anatomical site of the primary infection, and changing microflora in different geographic locations, also can impact blood cultures. Thus, blood cultures obtained in practice may not always accurately define the presence or absence of, or specific organisms causing, bacteraemia in horses and foals with suspected sepsis. Erroneous blood culture results can lead to inappropriate antimicrobial use, which can result in poor outcomes for individual patients and contribute to the development of antimicrobial resistance in the patient’s microflora and the environmental microcosm. This review summarises current indications and methodology, and specific factors that may be optimised, for equine blood culture, with particular focus on available literature from neonatal foals with suspected bacterial sepsis. To standardise and optimise blood culture techniques in horses and foals, future research in this area should be aimed at determining the optimal volume of blood that should be collected for culture, and the ideal site, timing, and frequency of sample collection.Reference:
Giancola S, Hart KA. Equine blood cultures: Can we do better? Equine Vet J. 2022 Oct 9. doi: 10.1111/evj.13891. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36210694.