May
2
2018

Advisory issued on horse infection diagnosis

Four horses from the same barn east of Charlottetown have been diagnosed with Strangles.  The barn owner immediately implemented all control measures to prevent further spread of disease.

Strangles is a very contagious bacterial infection of horses that causes fever, cough, depression and reduced eating. Horses will develop a nasal discharge that turns very thick and pus-filled.  Abscesses develop under their jaw and throatlatch, which can make them quite uncomfortable.  These abscesses will rupture and drain.  A horse will develop clinical signs between three to 14 days after exposure to an infected animal.  A small percentage of horses can develop more serious illness, but most recover within three to four weeks.  Strangles cannot be transmitted to other animals or people.

The most important practices to prevent spread of Strangles to other horses is isolation of the sick animal as soon as possible.  Disease can be spread through direct or indirect contact.  Be cautious of:

  • Tack and equipment
  • Shared drinking water and feed equipment
  • Clothing
  • Hands
  • Barn dogs and cats

Barns experiencing outbreaks should impose no-movement policies, monitor the animals closely, restrict visitors and prohibit new animals from the premises. 

Appropriate treatment should be discussed with your veterinarian.  Antibiotics may be appropriate early in the disease but supportive care is the most important treatment to promote the rupture and draining of abscesses.  Vaccines are not useful to prevent spread of disease on farms experiencing an outbreak.

In a non-outbreak situation, routine vaccinations are available and may be appropriate for animals that race, go to shows, or routinely mix with other horses.  This vaccine, along with others, should be discussed with your veterinarian.

For more information on equine strangles, please visit: http://www.equine-strangles.co.uk/ 

Media contact:
Wayne MacKinnon
wemackinnon@gov.pe.ca

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