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Avoiding the pitfalls and making the most of diagnostic tests for strangles



Equine strangles is a relatively common equine complaint that often carries with it emotion and politics that complicate an already difficult clinical scenario. Of key importance in long-term control and eradication of the disease is the existence of long-term carriers that frequently show no external signs of disease but perpetuate the infection within the equine population. The problematic nature of case management is not helped by diagnostic tests such as bacterial culture, polymerase chain reaction and serology that, in some instances, can be insensitive or lack specificity and often require careful interpretation. This review is intended to help present the evidence for appropriate selection, application, benefits and limitations of the various diagnostic options available to veterinary surgeons when investigating suspected strangles outbreaks.