Strangles is an infectious disease of horses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. It is a highly contagious disease most commonly seen in young horses and foals but horses of all ages can be affected.
What are the signs of Strangles?
Strangles can present with different signs depending on the stage of the disease. Most commonly you may note: A high temperature with loss of appetite A thick yellow discharge from nostrils and eyes Swollen lymph nodes of the head and neck with abscess formation Often these abscesses will burst to the outside and release thick yellow pus Large abscesses in the throat can lead to difficulty in swallowing or breathing.
How is Strangles spread?
Strangles is highly contagious and can be spread by: Direct contact between horses Tack, feeding utensils, water troughs or any equipment if contaminated with pus from an infected horse Humans that have had contact with an infected horse can carry the disease Recovered horses can spread the disease even though they appear normal. These horses are symptomless carriers of the bacterium and can act as a source of infection for many months
Can Strangles be treated?
If you suspect a Strangles outbreak then contact your vet immediately. The bacterium that causes Strangles can be killed by antibiotics but sometimes antibiotics are not administered depending on the stage of the disease. Antibiotics are unlikely to penetrate to the centre of a large abscess. Treatment may involve: Application of hot compresses to the abscess or bathing it with warm water to encourage the abscess to burst Irrigation of burst abscess cavities to promote healing Administration of antibiotics early in the disease may prevent abscess formation Anti-inflammatory medication often makes the patient feel much better
Are there any long-term complications of the disease?
Strangles can sometimes take an unusual course with abscesses forming deep in the body. This condition is called “Bastard Strangles” and is often hard to diagnose. Sometimes when horses recover from Strangles they can develop a condition called Purpura Haemorrhagia. This is due to widespread damage to blood vessels resulting in swelling of the legs and is often fatal requiring immediate veterinary attention.
How can I prevent Strangles?
Prevention of Strangles depends on good management. Isolate all possible Strangles cases. Stop movement of horses onto and off an infected premises. Do not mix equipment or personnel between infected and non-infected horses. Disinfect all stabling, feeding utensils and tack. Carriers of the disease may be identified by taking repeated nasal swabs. This system of carrier identification may be used after an outbreak or to identify possible carriers entering a yard
A new vaccine is now available to help in the prevention of Strangles. The vaccine uses modified live bacteria that cannot produce the disease. The vaccine is administered as a small volume injected into the upper lip. The basic vaccination schedule is two vaccinations four weeks apart. For high risk horses they should be re-vaccinated every three months. Horses in a high risk situation include: i) Those on a premises where Strangles has been diagnosed before. ii) Those in a large group with a lot of new horses coming and going iii) Horses in an area known to have a high incidence of Strangles. Horses considered to be at “medium risk” should be re-vaccinated every six months. This group includes horses frequently travelling to shows. Low risk horses, i.e. those kept at home and away from other horses, do not require vaccination. Vaccination is carried out by your vet who will be happy to discuss your risk status and implement a vaccination programme for you.
In my experience people are very reluctant to confirm the presence of Strangles in their yard. This secrecy often helps in the spread of the disease. Strangles is not a notifiable disease but it makes good sense to inform the owners of all in contact horses that the infection is present. They can then take steps to reduce the risk of clinical disease or further spread of the infection. Cheap Windows 7 Ultimate
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