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Evaluating Immune Responses to Rhodococcus equi

Rhodococcus equi is a bacteria that causes life-threatening bacterial pneumonia in foals. it is found in the soil wherever horses are raised, and on some farms morbidity rates can exceed 40 percent. Although horses become immune when they reach adulthood, there are no effective vaccines to prevent this devastating disease in foals. With previous Foundation support, these researchers helped define what immune responses an effective vaccine will need to elicit. in this study, the team will investigate the role of lipids found in the bacterial cell wall in immunity to R. equi. They will also test a novel immunization approach and determine whether inclusion of unique R. equi lipids can induce protective immune responses in foals. This study will help increase the knowledge of this disease and possibly save thousands of foals who could be spared if a vaccine were developed.

Dr. Stephen Hines, Washington State University