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Strangles

Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture ('DEFA') does not have powers to control strangles under Animal Health legislation – it is not a notifiable disease. Best advice should be obtained from your own veterinary surgeon. 

The Animal Health Trust has produced an advisory leaflet: 

http://www.aht.org.uk/strangles.org/pdf/steps.pdf 

The British Horse Society have also produced a leaflet: 

http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Strangles%20Leaflet.ashx 

Extracts from the above links follow: 

Strangles is one of the most commonly diagnosed contagious equine diseases worldwide. Some horses can outwardly show no signs yet still carry the infection and spread it to other horses. 

Spread the word…not the disease! 

There is no legal requirement to notify DEFA about an outbreak of strangles, but affected establishments are strongly encouraged to advise neighbouring equine premises etc of an outbreak to reduce the risk of spread. The vast majority of strangles outbreaks are simply down to bad luck rather than bad management and there should be no stigma attached to an outbreak. Rather than remain silent, being open and honest about an outbreak will help to reduce the spread of the disease. 

Strangles is caused by infection with the bacterium Streptococcus equi

Signs include: 

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • marked ‘snotty’ nasal discharge (this is the most common sign)
  • lymph node swelling and abscesses predominantly of the head and neck
  • Remember that not all horses will show all (or any) of these signs

Spread of infection 

Strangles can be spread easily by direct contact between horses or indirectly by handlers, equipment or contamination of the environment. This can lead to large outbreaks with many horses becoming infected if strict biosecurity measures are not put in place and adhered to. For example, the infection can be spread: 

  • by nose to nose contact between horses
  • via equipment shared with infected horses, such as:
  • water troughs where the bacterium can survive for long periods
  • feed buckets
  • grooming equipment
  • tack 

For further information please contact your own private veterinary surgeon.

 

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