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Clinical significance of aerobic bacterial flora of the uterus, vagina, vestibule, and clitoral fossa of clinically normal mares



Clinical significance of aerobic bacterial flora of the uterus, vagina, vestibule, and clitoral fossa of clinically normal mares



Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 193(1): 72-75



Swab specimens for bacterial culture were obtained from the uterus, vagina, vestibule, and clitoral fossa of 48 mares that had normal reproductive tracts, no history of reproductive problems, and no inflammation on evaluation of endometrial biopsy. The mares were predominantly Thoroughbred and Standardbred. Swab specimens of the vagina were obtained through a sterile speculum; swab specimens of the uterus were obtained by use of a double-guarded, occluded culture instrument. Fifteen (31%) of the urterine swab specimens and 20 (42%) of the vaginal swab specimens yielded growth on aerobic culture; however, only 2(4%) of the uterine swab specimens and 4(8%) of the vaginal swab specimens yielded growth of more than 10 colonies. In contrast, 21 (44%) of the vestibular swab specimens and 45 (94%) of the clitoral fossa swab specimens had moderate (> 10 colonies in 1 quadrant) to heavy (colonies in 2 or 3 quadrants) growth of organisms on culture. Of organisms considered to be potential pathogens, Streptococcus zooepidemicus and Escherichia coli were found on bacteriologic culture of several clitoral fossa swab specimens and of some vestibular swab specimens. We did not isolate any potential pathogens from uterine or vaginal swab specimens. It appears that 1 to 10 colonies of nonpathogenic organisms could be recovered from the uterus in a substantial number of clinically normal mares even when double-guarded swabbing techniques are used, and we suggest that prebreeding culture requirements be modified to reflect this. Also, our findings indicate that the vulvovaginal fold, rather than the cervix, might be the major barrier to ascending bacterial contamination of the reproductive tract. The clitoral fossa and vestibule support growth of organisms, including potential uterine pathogens. These organisms might serve as a source of uterine inoculum when the hand or an instrument is passed through the vulva and vestibule, and then is used to cannulate the cervix during procedures such as uterine swabbing, intrauterine infusion, or embryo transfer.

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Accession: 004971538

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PMID: 3417532


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