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STRANGLES

Strangles is a bacterial infection caused by 'Streptococcus equi subspecies equi'


ESSENTIAL FACTS

- Common disease of the general horse population

- Exclusive to horses 

- Highly contagious respiratory disease

- Infection is spread by ingestion / inhalation of secretions from the nose or abscesses, this can be by direct horse – horse contact or by coughing (aerosol) or via a third party e.g. human contact, grooming equipment, feed / water buckets and tack

- All ages of horse may be affected but 1 – 5 year olds are most susceptible

- Outbreaks occur because of the movement of ‘carrier’ animals i.e. infective animals that are showing no signs of disease onto premises with susceptible horses

 

CLINICAL SIGNS

- Fever, loss of appetite, depression, nasal discharge, difficulty eating, coughing

- Abscess / lumps underneath and around the jaw line

- Clinical signs may last from 1 week – 2 months

N.B. Affected animals may remain infective for up to 2 months and occasionally 8 months!

 

COURSE OF THE DISEASE

fever / loss of appetite→ abscessation→ abscess rupture→ recovery

 

COMPLICATIONS

- Rupture of abscess internally – into the throat or guttural pouch

-Internal spread of the infection e.g. to heart, lungs, abdomen (BASTARD STRANGLES)

- Anaemia / weight loss

-Purpura haemorraghica

-fever swelling of limbs / head / abdomen

-colic / renal disease

 

DIAGNOSIS

-Clinical signs

-Growth of specific bacteria from swabs taken of the nasal / throat / abscess secretions

- Blood test for carriers

 

CONTROL

- Quarantine / isolation and prevention of exposure to infected animals for at least 8 weeks after the last clinical symptoms have disappeared

- Cleanliness / disinfection of tack / buckets / personal clothing & footwear

- Routine monitoring of animals ‘at risk’ temperature

 

TREATMENT

- Most mild cases DO NOT require specific treatment

- General nursing care

- Soft food

- Hot compresses to encourage abscess development

- Drainage of abscess

- Careful disposal of discharges / bedding etc

- Antibiotic therapy (usually Penicillin) in severe cases

 

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERY RELATING TO STRANGLES OR ANY OTHER ASPECT OR YOUR HORSE’S WELFARE, PLEASE CONTACT THE SURGERY.

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