Scientists believe they have come one step closer to designing a new strangles vaccine. The announcement follows the largest study of Streptococcus equi (S equi), the bacteria responsible for the development of the disease.

In new research, scientists from the Animal Health Trust (AHT), the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the University of St Andrews joined forces to examine the history and evolution of the disease.  

They examined 224 samples of S equi procured from horses around the globe to find a common bacterial ancestor from which modern strains would have developed.   

Dr Andrew Waller, head of bacteriology at the AHT said: “The data we gathered has enabled us to pinpoint the genes that help the bacteria to persist, spread and thrive in the horse population.

“This research provides an unprecedented opportunity to reduce the impact of and prevent strangles in future generations of horses.”  

Despite more than 100 years of research, the disease remains the most frequently diagnosed infection of horses worldwide.

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