2 Michigan Horses Positive for Strangles

The horses live in Allegan and Saginaw counties.
A suckling filly in Saginaw County and a weanling filly in Allegan County, Michigan, were recently confirmed positive for strangles.
A suckling filly in Saginaw County and a weanling filly in Allegan County, Michigan, were recently confirmed positive for strangles. | Wikimedia Commons

Two horses in Michigan were recently confirmed positive for strangles. The horses live in Saginaw and Allegan counties. 

In Saginaw County, a suckling Quarter Horse filly was confirmed positive for strangles on March 19 after developing clinical signs on March 15, including swollen lymph nodes. She is now recovering. 

In Allegan County, a weanling filly was confirmed positive on April 3 after developing clinical signs on March 25, including increased breathing, bloody nasal discharge, and an abscess under her chin. She is now recovering, and six horses are exposed. 

EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.

About Strangles

Strangles in horses is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi and spread through direct contact with other equids or contaminated surfaces. Horses that aren’t showing clinical signs can harbor and spread the bacteria, and 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:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Muscle swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing

Veterinarians diagnose horses using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing with either a nasal swab, wash, or an abscess sample, and they treat most cases based on clinical signs, implementing antibiotics for severe cases. 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 of quarantining new horses at a facility and maintaining high standards of hygiene and disinfecting surfaces can help lower the risk of outbreak or contain one when it occurs.

Brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim, The Art of the Horse
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