A major concern in stabled horses is the occurrence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease has been associated with poorly ventilated stables, exposure to dust and mold and as a sequel to bacterial and viral respiratory tract infections. The purpose of this study was to determine the presence of airborne Gram-negative bacteria (GNB), fungi and endotoxin which may be factors in the incidence of COPD in stabled horses. Three bedding materials were used: phone book paper, pine sawdust and wheat straw. Six stalls and six horses were utilized for the study. Two stalls each were bedded with either phone book paper, sawdust or straw. Air samples for GNB and fungi (N=96) were collected inside each stall for eight consecutive days using the time intervals of 15s, 30s, 2 min and 3 min using an Andersen Cascade Impactor. Air samples for endotoxin (N=42) were collected for each bedding type over a seven-day period. Analysis for airborne GNB, fungi and endotoxin were performed on air samples collected from the stalls. No differences were detected in total plate count for either GNB (P>.10) or fungi (P>.10) between the phone book paper, sawdust or straw bedding materials. Gram-negative bacteria and fungi were prevalent in the air of all s tails. The straw stalls had higher levels of airborne endotoxin contamination levels (P<.001) as compared to the phone book paper and sawdust stalls. The stall air for phone book paper appeared similar to that of the sawdust and straw stalls in GNB and fungi contamination levels while the straw stalls had higher endotoxin contamination levels when compared to the other beddings. Phone book paper may be an acceptable bedding material when considering microbial contamination. Further research of the direct impact of these contamination levels on the respiratory health of horses is needed.
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