Strangles in horses
STRANGLES is a highly contagious disease in horses, ponies and donkeys caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi.
Horses that contract strangles most commonly display signs such as fever, nasal discharge and swelling around the throat area.
This swelling may turn into an abscess that may burst and discharge pus.
Strangles can be spread by contact with infected horses and by sharing buckets, tack, human clothing, feed and pastures.
If you suspect your horse has strangles, the vet should be contacted so an accurate diagnosis can be made.
Strangles can be treated with penicillin, although not all horses require antibiotics to recover.
Other treatments can include rest and anti inflammatories, and if abscesses burst, cleaning them with an antiseptic solution such as iodine.
In Victoria strangles is a notifiable disease, affected horses should be kept isolated from healthy horses and care should be taken to prevent contaminated materials being shared with healthy horses.
A strangles vaccination is available, it doesn’t always prevent disease in all horses but it can assist in reducing the duration and severity of the disease and also help reduce strangles spreading in a disease outbreak.
An initial course of three injections two weeks apart is necessary.
Booster vaccinations are recommended every six months as the duration of immunity following vaccination is short.
Horses should not be vaccinated while actively infected.
There have recently been several strangles outbreaks reported in the racing industry and we all have to be mindful when taking our horses out to club days and competitions to try and prevent diseases such as strangles from spreading.