The Veterinary clinics of North America. Equine practice2018; 34(1); 55-68; doi: 10.1016/j.cveq.2017.11.003

Foal Diarrhea: Established and Postulated Causes, Prevention, Diagnostics, and Treatments.

Abstract: Diarrhea is one of the most important diseases in young foals and may occur in more than half of foals until weaning age. Several infectious and noninfectious underlying causes have been implicated but scientific evidence of pathogenesis is evolving. It is important to investigate all known potential causes and identify infectious agents to avoid outbreaks, evaluate the level of systemic compromise, and establish adequate therapy. It is crucial to differentiate foals that can be managed in field conditions from those that should be sent to a referral center. This article reviews these aspects and recent developments in the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.
Publication Date: 2018-02-01 PubMed ID: 29395727PubMed Central: PMC7134762DOI: 10.1016/j.cveq.2017.11.003Google Scholar: Lookup
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This research summary has been generated with artificial intelligence and may contain errors and omissions. Refer to the original study to confirm details provided. Submit correction.

This research article presents a detailed exploration of foal diarrhea, discussing its causes, prevention methods, diagnostic procedures, and treatment options. It emphasizes the significance of identifying infectious agents to prevent outbreak escalation and highlights the difference between managing foals under field conditions versus in referral centers.

Understanding Foal Diarrhea

  • Diarrhea, as outlined in this study, is a commonly occurring disease in young foals, potentially impacting more than fifty percent of the population before reaching weaning age.
  • Its significance lies in its potential to disrupt the nutritional balance and overall health of the young horses, making it a significant area of concern in equine veterinary studies.
  • The study calls for thorough investigations into the underlying causes of foal diarrhea, both infectious and noninfectious, to prevent outbreak escalations and better manage the disease.

Variety of Causes & The Need for Diagnosis

  • The paper highlights that multiple factors, infectious and noninfectious, may cause foal diarrhea, suggesting that a one-size-fits-all approach to diagnosis and treatment might not be effective.
  • Understanding the origin of diarrhea in foals is critical – if caused by infectious agents, its containment becomes a priority to avoid horse population-wide outbreaks.
  • The paper underlines the need for enhancing the scientific evidence of pathogenesis to enable a more robust diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

Prevention, Diagnostics & Treatment Techniques

  • Prevention strategies against foal diarrhea, according to the study, need to focus intensely on inhibiting infectious causes to reduce the prevalence of this disease.
  • Appropriate diagnostic practices are required to determine the severity of the disease and evaluate the systemic compromise in the foals.
  • The study also discusses the treatment options at a field level and when medical attention at a referral center becomes necessary for the infected foals.
  • This strategic differentiation would enable efficient healthcare for foals without overburdening the specialist referral centers.

Takeaways & Future Work

  • The research leads to a comprehensive understanding of foal diarrhea, suggesting constructive pathways to prevent and combat the disease effectively.
  • It invites further research into the evolving scientific evidence of diarrhea’s pathogenesis in foals and how this knowledge can refine the treatment approaches.
  • The study emphasizes the importance of distinguishing between field-level care and specialist care – a move that could enhance resources while ensuring adequate healthcare for young horses.

Cite This Article

Oliver-Espinosa O. (2018). Foal Diarrhea: Established and Postulated Causes, Prevention, Diagnostics, and Treatments. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract, 34(1), 55-68.


ISSN: 1558-4224
NlmUniqueID: 8511904
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 34
Issue: 1
Pages: 55-68
PII: S0749-0739(17)30916-1

Researcher Affiliations

Oliver-Espinosa, Olimpo
  • Department of Animal Health, National University of Colombia, Carrera 45 # 26-85, Edif. Uriel Gutiu00e9rrez, Bogotu00e1 D.C., Colombia. Electronic address:

MeSH Terms

  • Animals
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Diarrhea / prevention & control
  • Diarrhea / therapy
  • Diarrhea / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases / diagnosis
  • Horse Diseases / prevention & control
  • Horse Diseases / therapy
  • Horses


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