According to study, researchers examined that the strep throat can run rampant in elementary schools, strangles, the "strep throat" of horses, caused by a different Streptococcus bacterium, Streptococcus equi sp equi, is highly contagious. Lymph nodes in the head and neck region become swollen and develop abscesses, resulting in nasal discharge and drainage from the throat.

Though rarely fatal, strangles cases can range from mild to severe, and complications that impair eating and breathing can arise in some instances. Altogether, it's a disease that horse owners want to keep far from their stables. "From a practical standpoint, the consensus statement serves to advise all veterinarians on what we recommend as a way to treat and deal with the disease," Boyle says.

The authors of the consensus statement are a collection of experts in the field of Streptococcal diseases in horses including veterinary microbiologists, epidemiologists, and veterinarians who research this disease, as well as internists who encounter the disease frequently."

Research instead recommend "guttural pouch sampling," a technique that tests the fluid that sits in an area between a horse's ear and throat, akin to the human Eustachian tube, in combination with using an endoscope to visually assess the area for unruptured absesses. They are no longer consider this the gold standard," Boyle says, as horses with low levels of bacteria may still be carriers but not give a positive result on this test.

The authors see DNA amplification technologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) along with visualization of the guttural pouch as replacing culture as this standard. The publication lays out best practices for quarantine and examination in order to prevent the spread of disease, and biosecurity protocols to reduce transmission in facilities where infected horses have been housed.

It spells out treatment protocols, urging judicious use of antibiotics, and explains how to recognize, evaluate the risk for, and treat one of the more serious complications of strangles, an autoimmune reaction known as purpura hemorrhagica, which can be fatal. While the consensus statement is aimed at veterinarians, Boyle says owners often read them directly, and can implement some of the recommendations.

Authors hope that the new guidelines will help veterinarians and owners navigate strangles cases more effectively, ideally mitigating the disease's health and financial costs.