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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Estimation of the basic reproduction number for Streptococcus equi spp. equi outbreaks by meta-analysis of strangles outbreak reports

Houben, Rosa M. A. C.; van Maanen, Kees; Kemp-Symonds, Jeremy G.; Waller, Andrew S.; van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaan, Marianne M. Sloet; Heesterbeek, Hans


Background Streptococcus equi spp. equi (S. equi), the cause of strangles in horses, is considered a highly contagious pathogen affecting equines and the equine industry worldwide. Fundamental epidemiological characteristics of outbreaks, such as the basic reproduction number (R-0), are not well described. Objectives Estimate R-0 for S. equi in equine populations from outbreak data. Study design Systematic review and meta-analysis of published and unpublished data. Methods A literature search for outbreak reports was carried out. Depending on data available in the reports, the early epidemic growth rate or final attack rate (AR) approach was used to estimate the basic reproduction number for that outbreak. Other recorded outbreak characteristics were the type of housing (group vs. individual). An overall estimate for R-0 was computed by meta-analysis. Results Data from eight outbreaks were extracted from peer-reviewed publications. Data from two additional, non-published outbreaks was also included in the meta-analysis. A conservative estimate for R-0 was 2.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9-2.5). A less conservative estimate, including outbreaks with a 100% AR for which a lower limit R-0 was estimated, was 2.7 (95% CI 2.1-3.3). Main limitations Few papers describing longitudinal incidence data were found so most estimates were based on the outbreaks' final size. Several outbreaks had a 100% attack rate and could therefore only be included as a lower limit estimate in the meta-analysis. The reported result therefore may be an underestimation. Conclusions This estimate for R-0 for S. equi informs parameters for future mathematical modelling, quantifies desired preventive vaccine coverage and helps evaluate the effect of prevention strategies through future modelling studies.


basic reproduction number; epidemiology; horse; R-0; strangles; Streptococcus equi

Published in

Equine Veterinary Journal
2023, Volume: 55, number: 3, pages: 506-514
Publisher: WILEY

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