Enterocolitis and the Effectiveness of Bio-Sponge (AAEP 2002)

Enterocolitis (inflammation of the small intestine and colon) caused by the bacteriums Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens is a common problem for both adult horses and foals, according to Nathalie Cote, DMV, DVSc, of the University of Guelph. However, even with aggressive treatment, many do not survive the disease and treatment can be expensive. But the use of di-tri-octahedral (DTO) smectite might help according to a study which tested the brand Bio-Sponge done by Cote; Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, a microbiology specialist at the University of Guelph; and Rolph De Gannes, GV, DVM, in Equine Veterinary Sciences at the University of Guelph.

DTO smectite is a natural hydrated aluminomagnesium silicate that binds to digestive mucus and increases resistance to bacterial damage by absorbing substances in the digestive tract. This includes substances such as endotoxins, exotoxins, and organic vapors. C. difficile and C. perfringens produce such toxins. This binding action results in a shortened duration of diarrhea and fewer stools in humans. Researchers studied a commercial form of DTO smectite called Bio-Sponge and determined that it binds to C. difficile toxins A and B and C. perfringens enterotoxin in vitro (in a laboratory environment). "This suggests that DTO smectite may be useful for the treatment or prevention of clostridial colitis in horses," Cote said.

The study also showed that Bio-Sponge did not inhibit the growth of C. difficile and C. perfringens. Therefore, the use of antimicrobials such as metronidazole might still be necessary in the treatment of clostridial colitis. However, the researchers also determined that DTO smectite does not bind to metronidazole. "This study suggests that there is no contraindication to the combined use of DTO smectite and metronidazole," she continued.

Cote said that further testing needs to be performed in vivo (in the living body) to determine if the results of their study will be the same in the living horse.

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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