The presence in the blood of endotoxins which are usually derived from gram- negative rod- shaped bacteria like E. coli in the gut. Other sources of toxins are deep penetrating wounds where anaerobic bacteria e.g. Clostridium tetani can grow releasing tetanus toxin into the bloodstream and causing Tetanus. Certain types of pneumonia or diffuse infectious cellulitis may involve toxin producing bacteria and lead to endotoxaemia also. Absorbtion of bacterial toxins from contaminated feed is another potential cause as in Botulism.
Gut toxins may diffuse into the blood via the gut wall in ‘’leaky gut syndrome’’ (see Colic & Dysbiosis) and are a potential cause of systemic shock and also the vascular changes in the sensitive laminae of the hoof wall resulting in Laminitis.
Treatment includes antibiotic therapy to resolve the infection and kill toxin producing bacteria coupled with anti – inflammatory medication such as NSAIDS and support for the circulation via intravenous fluid therapy. In tetanus, a specific antitoxin made from hyperimmune serum is available. Laminitis treatment may also be needed.