Fast-track Diagnosis and Recovery With SAA Testing

Stablelab® can help equine veterinarians promptly diagnose and monitor inflammation due to infection  

By Bobby Cowles, Managing Veterinarian, Equine Technical Services, Zoetis

A newly purchased horse arrives at the barn and looks under the weather. Are his signs related to transport stress, or are they signs of a more serious problem? This is a situation veterinarians and horse owners often find themselves in and one that requires thorough evaluation and proper diagnosis.

Diagnosing Early Signs of Sickness 
In one particular case, a horse arrived at the barn with nasal discharge and a low-grade fever. The trainer chalked it up to stress from transporting. However, soon after, the horse developed a cough, prompting a visit from the veterinarian who recommended a Serum Amyloid A (SAA) test using Stablelab®, a hand-held stall-side diagnostic blood test. SAA is a major acute-phase protein produced by the liver. Its concentration rapidly and dramatically increase in response to an infection, making it a reliable biomarker for inflammation due to infection.1

The horse’s test results revealed an SAA concentration of 603 (normal level is 0), indicating inflammation due to infection. With this timely detection, the veterinarian, along with other clinical findings, made his diagnosis and determined that antibiotic therapy, using EXCEDE® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension, was needed to help treat the horse’s infection before symptoms worsened.

Monitoring Treatment Success With SAA 
Following the course of treatment, the veterinarian conducted a second SAA test to monitor the horse’s response. SAA testing with Stablelab can be a valuable tool, not just for diagnoses, but especially to monitor the responsiveness to and ultimate success of treatment plans. Veterinarians should consider using multiple tests as needed to monitor therapeutic plans at work. If subsequent tests show SAA concentration trending up or leveling off, that is an indicator that a new or more aggressive treatment plan is needed.

SAA Testing — Horse-owner Approved 
In this case, Stablelab helped the veterinarian diagnose his patient’s infection versus noninfection early as well as monitor the horse’s treatment response. But the veterinarian isn’t the only one to appreciate the benefits of this diagnostic tool. The horse’s owner, Anne Ewing, had a positive experience with SAA testing — a tool she didn’t know existed for horses. She found it comforting that they were able to quickly diagnose the issue and implement treatment without leaving the horse’s side.  

“This was the first time that SAA testing had been offered to me, and now I have great confidence in this test,” Ewing said. “We were able to detect the infection, put a treatment plan together and monitor his response to the treatment, all within days. I recommend all my fellow horse owners talk to their veterinarian about SAA testing if they think their horse may be coming down with something or is just acting off.” 

To learn more about SAA testing with Stablelab, contact your Zoetis Equine specialist or visit

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: People with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCEDE. EXCEDE is contraindicated in animals with known allergy to ceftiofur or to the β-lactam group (penicillins and cephalosporins) of antimicrobials. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. The administration of antimicrobials in horses under conditions of stress may be associated with diarrhea, which may require appropriate veterinary therapy. See full Prescribing Information.

About Zoetis 
Zoetis is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on more than 65 years of experience in animal health, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines, vaccines and diagnostic products, which are complemented by biodevices, genetic tests and precision livestock farming. Zoetis serves veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals with sales of its products in more than 100 countries. In 2019, the company generated annual revenue of $6.3 billion with approximately 10,600 employees. For more information, visit

For more information, contact
Amy Poulin Braim                                                      

Theresa Fitzgerald
Bader Rutter   

1 Jacobsen S. Review of Equine Acute-Phase Proteins, in Proceedings. American Association of Equine Practitioners 2007;230-235.



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