The reactivity of the proline-glutamic acid-proline-lysine (pepk) repetition peptide antigen in 3176 serum samples was investigated to evaluate its utility as an antigen for the serological diagnosis of strangles. The reactivity of the sera of horses infected with Streptococcus equi subspecies equi was high when the peptide had several pepk repetitions. However, as the number of pepk repetitions increased, the reactivity of the antigen with the sera of horses infected with Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus also increased. In horses infected experimentally with S equi, the reactivity of the pepk antigen with five repetitions increased one week after inoculation and continued to increase during the following four weeks. The optical density (od) values of test sera from horses infected experimentally with S equi and sera from horses that had recovered from strangles were high. The od values of sera from horses that had recovered from an experimental infection with S zooepidemicus and of sera from healthy horses were comparatively low.
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