Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Michael Hensley

Degree Award Date

Spring 2008


Aspergillus species, Equus caballus, fungal infection, guttural pouch, horses, Bridgewater College Equestrian Center, culture method, polymerase chain reaction methods


Animal Sciences | Immunology and Infectious Disease


Horses can suffer from a condition known as a fungal infection of the guttural pouch. The guttural pouches are large sacs in the horse's head that are believed to regulate arterial blood temperature. They are ideal for the growth of fungi because they are warm, dark, and humid with poor ventilation. The most common causative agent of this mycosis are members of the genus Aspergillus. Molds of species of Aspergillus are extremely pervasive and are commonly found in the soil, decaying vegetation, grains, and the air. They are classified as secondary or opportunistic pathogens, being found in many horses but only acting when the immune system is already compromised. Stressed horses and horses stabled in barns with poor ventilation are more susceptible to these infections, which can cause severe epistaxis as the fungal plaque degrades the lining between the guttural pouch and the carotid artery. This research will aim to analyze how common Aspergillus species are at two stables, one with a large number of horses, the Bridgewater College Equestrian Center, and the other a small private farm, in Weyer's Cave, VA using both culture and polymerase chain reaction methods. It will also look at a horse who has had a confirmed case of guttural pouch mycosis and compare those results to horses who have not had a confirmed diagnosis.