Washington confirmed two strangles cases on Aug. 6. The Washington State Veterinarian’s Office reported one horse at a private facility in Kittitas County and another at a boarding facility in King County. Both facilities are under voluntary quarantine. The owners are working with their private veterinarians to manage the cases and implement biosecurity practices.
EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program. It utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization. It is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.
Strangles in horses is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi. It spreads through direct contact with other equids or contaminated surfaces. Most importantly, horses that aren’t showing clinical signs can harbor and spread the bacteria. Recovered horses remain contagious for at least six weeks, with the potential to cause outbreaks long-term.
Infected horses can exhibit a variety of clinical signs:
- Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes
- Nasal discharge
- Coughing or wheezing
- Muscle swelling
- Difficulty swallowing
Veterinarians diagnose horses using polymerase chain reaction testing with either a nasal swab, wash, or an abscess sample. They treat most cases based on clinical signs, implementing antibiotics for severe cases. But overuse of antibiotics can prevent an infected horse from developing immunity. Most horses make a full recovery in three to four weeks.
A vaccine is available but not always effective. Biosecurity measures include quarantining new horses at a facility and maintaining high standards of hygiene. Consequently, these, as well as disinfecting surfaces, can help lower the risk of outbreak or contain one when it occurs.