Horse owners must be aware of possible strangles infections


From: Farm and Ranch Guide
By: Ryan Crossingham

While there haven’t been any more reported cases than usual, it’s important that producers be on the lookout for “strangles,” otherwise known as horse distemper, a highly contagious equine disease caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi which infects the upper respiratory tract of equine species.

“It’s an infection of their lymph nodes up in the neck and head, which can cause some difficulty breathing and swallowing sometimes if they get big enough,” said Neil Dyer, director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at North Dakota State University.

While Dyer said most horses will get through it and develop an immunity, strangles can become severe at times and become difficult to deal with for horse owners.

“It can be fatal,” he said. “In some situations it can spread throughout the entire body. If it gets into the abdomen and chest, the animal can die. Those are unusual cases, but they can happen.”

The bacteria is transmitted between direct contact with other horses, and the disease evolves through four stages.

At first the animal will be exposed but show no symptoms. The first clinical signs will develop within the first two to six days after exposure, although an incubation period of up to two weeks isn’t uncommon.

POST DATE: 11/20/2014