Researchers Test Strangles Treatment

How do cheesecake, gelatin, and penicillin relate to a treatment for strangles? Dr. Anna Kendall explains.

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Researchers Test Strangles Treatment
Not all strangles cases have the classic clinical signs, and abscessations may not always be in the typical locations, Boyle said. | Photo: Dr. Philip Ivens
Seeing a cheesecake might make your mouth water. But observing a melting cheesecake at a party sent the mind of veterinarian Anna Kendall, DVM, in an entirely different direction: whether a commonly used strangles treatment is, indeed, effective.

Veterinarians often place a paste containing penicillin-gelatin in horses’ guttural pouches when treating infections caused by Streptococcus equi, the bacteria responsible for strangles. Penicillin is mixed with gelatin to make it viscous, or sticky, so that it remains in the guttural pouch longer than a watery fluid would.

But, most people with cooking experience know that, in warmer temperatures, set gelatin tends to melts back into liquid. Because an average horse’s normal temperature hovers between 98 and 101 degrees F—and it’s likely that the temperature inside the guttural pouch will exceed the outside temperature—the penicillin-gelatin mixture might not remain solid.

“I wondered, were we mixing up a gelatin paste for no good reason at all?” said Kendall, of Mälaren Equine Practice, in Sigtuna, Sweden

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Written by:

Katie Navarra has worked as a freelance writer since 2001. A lifelong horse lover, she owns and enjoys competing a dun Quarter Horse mare.

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