Beta-hemolytic Streptococcus spp. from horses: a retrospective study (2000-2010)

J Vet Diagn Invest. 2012 Jan;24(1):142-7. doi: 10.1177/1040638711434138.


The goal of this retrospective study was to have a comprehensive picture of the β-hemolytic streptococci of horses including tissue/organ distributions and susceptibility patterns against specific antimicrobials between January 1, 2000 and December 31, 2010. A total of 2,497 β-hemolytic streptococci were isolated from 2,391 cases, of which Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus was the most frequent isolate (72.0%). Other species isolated were Streptococcus dysgalactia subsp. equisimilis (21.3%), Streptococcus equi subsp. equi (5.8%), and unidentified β-hemolytic streptococci (0.9%). As expected, S. equi was mostly isolated from lymph node abscesses and the respiratory tract in foals and adult horses. Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus and S. equisimilis were mostly isolated from placenta, fetal tissues, and genital tract of horses; S. zooepidemicus and S. equisimilis were also recovered in significant numbers from a number of other organs including lung, liver, brain, kidney, and joints, indicating a much broader tissue tropism than S. equi. In addition, more than 1 Streptococcus spp. was recovered in 106 cases, indicating the co-existence of these bacteria in some horses. This data also suggested that S. equisimilis is a major bacterial agent of horses, contrary to present knowledge. Based on Kirby-Bauer antimicrobial susceptibility data, streptococci were found to be generally susceptible to cephalothin, erythromycin, nitrofurantoin, penicillin, and ticarcillin and clavulanate. Resistance to antimicrobials has not developed over the years, except for gentamicin and tetracycline against S. equisimilis.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Disk Diffusion Antimicrobial Tests / veterinary
  • Horse Diseases / diagnosis
  • Horse Diseases / microbiology*
  • Horses / microbiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Streptococcal Infections / diagnosis
  • Streptococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Streptococcal Infections / veterinary*
  • Streptococcus equi / drug effects
  • Streptococcus equi / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus* / drug effects
  • Streptococcus* / isolation & purification


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents