THOROUGHBRED HORSES

Rapid diagnosis of strangles to improve horse health

  • 6 pages

  • Published: 27 May 2024

  • Author(s): Martina Jelocnik

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Infectious diseases can cause significant equine illness and death, seriously impacting the productivity of the Australian thoroughbred breeding industry and incurring economic losses. One well-known disease is ‘strangles’, a highly contagious upper respiratory tract disease that affects horses throughout the country.

To aid the rapid diagnosis of strangles, this project developed end-user-ready LAMP isothermal assays for detection of Streptococcus equi subspecies equi, the causative pathogen of strangles, and another related pathogen, Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus.

The LAMP assays were validated against samples previously tested with qPCR or traditional bacterial identification methods, and high agreement of more than 95% was observed between the assays. Rapid sample processing was also evaluated using commercially available buffers for DNA release from a range of clinical samples.

Finally, to allow for translation to clinical practice, detailed pictorial protocols were prepared to build confidence and improve use of these assays in the clinical setting. The end users tested a range of horse samples and received the results within hours – with similar results between the new LAMP assays and established testing methods.

Accurate and rapid diagnosis is a key step in strangles management. This project has provided an additional proof of concept that rapid isothermal diagnostics can be effectively applied in the equine clinical setting, allowing for timely disease management.