6 Ontario Horses Test Positive for Strangles

The horses live in Peterborough County and the United Counties of Prescott and Russell.
Five horses in Peterborough County and one horse in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, Ontario, recently tested positive for strangles.
Five horses in Peterborough County and one horse in the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, Ontario, recently tested positive for strangles. | Adobe Stock

Six horses in Ontario recently tested positive for strangles. 

In Peterborough County, five horses at a private facility are positive. The farm owner is working with their veterinarian to implement movement restrictions and infection control measures. 

In the United Counties of Prescott and Russell, a yearling Standardbred filly tested positive on June 6 after arriving from another farm in Ontario in November. Two additional horses at the private facility 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.

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