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Strangles: What Is It and What To Do to Keep Your Horse Protected

Strangles

What Is It and What To Do to keep your horse protected



Strangles is the common name for the Bacteria Streptococcus equi and is a very contagious bacterial disease that is communicable through contact with other infected horses or something that has come in contact with the infected horse such as brushes, tack, water troughs, people, etc.

Some of the signs are:

Snotty nose (can be up to two weeks before lymph node abscesses occur)
Fever up to 105 in the very sick
Swollen lymph nodes that can rupture and drain (especially around the throat and under jaw)
Anorexia (stop eating)


Keep in mind that it may be up to two weeks after exposure before the signs appear.
Even with treatment the animal may be contagious for up to a month.
Carrier state may occur which means that the animal can form walled off abscesses inside the
body that can lay dormant for years. If stressed the animal can have another breakout and/or
die.


 Bio-security is your best line of defense!


Respiratory diseases are highly contagious and easily transmitted from horse to horse not only
by direct contact but can be transmitted via clothing, shoes, hoses, grooming materials, tack, car
tires, etc.
 Quarantine is very important! No animals in or out  of a facility, to decrease the likelihood
of spreading the infection to another site.  It is imperative that ill horses be quarantined away from
other animals and anyone that comes into contact with them wash their hands, change clothes
and use disinfecting foot baths before having contact with other horses.                                                                       When on rides or at shows, severely limit contact with other animals. Horses don’t need to touch noses to socialize.

Diagnosis is done when the veterinarian retrieves some of the nasal discharge or tapping the swollen lymph node.
The sample is then sent to the lab for culture or Polymerase Chain Reaction Assay (PCR).
This is the only definitive way to confirm the infection.

Following treatment and apparent resolution of the disease, the infected animals are further tested to determine
if they are still shedding the bacteria. This is done most commonly through nasal wash or flush and requires three negative tests, spaced out over approximately three weeks.
 
It is NOT recommended to vaccinate your horse in the face of an outbreak!  
If there have been suspected or confirmed respiratory illnesses at your horse’s location,  it is important to                    NOT booster their respiratory vaccines (Flu, Rhino, or Strangles).  
Vaccinations work by challenging the Immune System.  If your horse has been
potentially exposed to an illness, their immune system may already be compromised and
working to fight to protect them from the disease.  Vaccinating them can further suppress their
immune system and make them more susceptible to illness.
Also, vaccinating your horse if he/she has a high blood titer can make them susceptible to
complications, such as an Immune Mediated Disease called Purpura hemorrhagica, which can
result in death.
Keep in mind that vaccines don’t always completely protect your horse from contacting a
disease. The effectiveness of a vaccine can prevent the disease from taking hold or it decreases
the severity of the episode.

We strongly recommend having a veterinarian administer the vaccinations so that your horse
may be covered by a vaccine guarantee offered through some vaccine manufacturers.  Some of
these programs will cover the cost of diagnostics and treatment if the horse becomes ill from
one of the covered diseases.


We at Wildflower Veterinary Services use one of the more advanced vaccines that incorporates
a process called microtechnology to give a higher immune response and fewer vaccination
reactions.
 
Please do not hesitate to call us with your questions!  

The office can be reached calling (253) 847-1626 or emailing wildflowervet7@gmail.com

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  • "Awesome vet. Willing to get up in the middle of the night to stitch up my daughter's old Qt horse. Very reasonable, very personable. I would recommend him every time."
    Joe
  • "Wouldn't go anywhere else. All of the staff at Wildflower are awesome and down to earth. Dr G is a super neat guy and I highly recommend this place for anyone with large and small animals."
    Aimee
  • "Amazing group of people! They've came through for my animals every time I call. Dr. Gillette saved my dogs life and for that, I am forever great full for! All the vets and staff are amazing and generally love healing all creatures. Thank you so much, Boots is only 2 days post-op and back to her normal self. Sincerely, Regan Justice."
    Regan
  • "Dr. G. and his staff are outstanding! My daughter and I went to his pet clinic where he taught first aide techniques for horses - it came in handy when our dog got hit by a car. I am glad I went to that clinic because it helped a lot."
    Barb