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A case is described of a 79-year-old man, trampled by his horses, who subsequently developed a wound infection and, later, meningitis. Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus was isolated as the causative organism. S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus, which carries the Lancefield Group C antigen, is an uncommon human pathogen but is commonly isolated from bacterial infections in animals, particularly horses. It is most commonly acquired by humans following animal contact. A review of the literature identified 20 previously described cases of S. equi subsp. zooepidemicus meningitis. Crude mortality following infection was 24%. All of the patients who died were over 70 years of age and the ingestion of unpasteurised dairy products was associated with all but one of the fatal cases. Hearing loss was a frequent complication, occurring in 19% of cases. Only 38% of patients made a complete recovery. Treatment regimes commonly included benzylpenicillin or a third-generation cephalosporin, with a mean treatment duration in survivors of 23 days.

Original publication




Journal article


European journal of clinical microbiology & infectious diseases : official publication of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology

Publication Date





1459 - 1463


Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.


Animals, Horses, Humans, Streptococcus equi, Meningitis, Bacterial, Streptococcal Infections, Zoonoses, Horse Diseases, Anti-Bacterial Agents, Treatment Outcome, Aged, Male