Strangles Guidelines Released to the Public

In 2005, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) released its consensus statement on guidelines for treatment, control, and prevention of strangles, which is caused by Streptococcus equi. The 12-page paper took a year to complete and reflects the input of researchers and veterinary clinicians across the country. The document was published in the January issue of the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and can be found online at

Corinne Sweeney, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of Medicine and vice chair of the Department of Clinical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, was one of four veterinarians on the committee that assembled the guidelines. While the guidelines are comprehensive and cover many facets of strangles, she said, "Most interesting to horse owners would be the control of outbreaks--what to do when there's an outbreak in the barn." Read the suggested measures at

In the epidemiology section, S. equi 's lack of environmental persistence is noted. "Some people think a farm that has had strangles is contaminated for life; it's not," said Sweeney. "That's the take-home message from that section--there's no proof that S. equi lasts very long, even in the ideal situation (the lab, where it was found it survived for 48-60 days in various temperatures on a variety of surfaces).

"This is not a hardy organism," she added.

Under the treatment section, the authors dispelled the myth that giving antibiotics in the face of strangles will cause "bastard strangles" (abscess formation away from the head and neck). Some have proposed this happens because killing S. equi could indirectly affect immunity development and increase the risk of infection. But Sweeney assures that no studies support that.

The guidelines list future research directions, which could include developing a serological test to identify subclinical carriers of S. equi to help prevent and control strangles outbreaks. These guidelines will be updated as new research is published.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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