At the beginning of the year 2003, a dog testing positive for heart-worm antigen was referred to the University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. In autumn 2002, the dog had been imported to Finland from Spain, where heartworm disease is endemic. The patient had severe renal failure and bilateral uveitis. Thoracic radiography and echocardiography did not reveal any pathognomic changes for heartworm disease. Tests were done to exclude Leishmaniasis, which is endemic in Spain and also leads to renal failure and uveitis. In a bone marrow aspiration sample, amastigotes were observed inside the macrophages, which is diagnostic for Leishmaniasis. Due to poor prognosis and substantial contraindications to treatment, the dog was euthanised. On autopsy, both heartworm infection and Leishmaniasis were detected. This was the first confirmed case of canine heartworm disease in Finland.
Rhodococcus equi bacteria has been found to normally habitate in the soil at horse breeding farms. Recent studies have revealed that virulent strains are more common on farms with a history of clinical disease. In foals, R. equi typically causes serious bronchopneumonia with lung abscess formation. Clinical signs of infection are usually seen at about two months of age. Sick foals shed large quantities of virulent R. equi in their faeces. In earlier studies, foals were thought to be infected at the time when maternaly derived antibodies decrease. Most of the later studies, however, have shown that infection is likely to occur during the first weeks of life. Even good maternally derived antibody levels can not always protect foals from the disease. In the early stages of infection, typical clinical signs include fever, tachypnoea and tachycardia. The optimal method of diagnosis in the early stages of disease is a bacterial culture from the tracheal aspirate. In more advanced infection, hematological changes (hyperfi brinogenaemia and leukocytosis) and thoracic radiographs can verify the diagnosis. These methods are also valuable for monitoring the effectiveness of treatment. Administration of hyperimmune plasma to foals has been found to be the most effective preventive procedure.