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Learn more about strangles

  • Call your vet. The most reliable diagnosis of strangles is to obtain samples from abscessing lymph nodes before they rupture. Nasal swabs taken at the time that abscesses form often test negative for S.equi
  • Set up three colour-coded groups of animals: the presumed infected horse, plus any others with one or more clinical signs of strangles (nasal discharge, abscess formation, depression, loss of appetite) should be isolated into a red “presumed infected” group. Horses without any clinical signs that have had direct or indirect contact with the red group should be isolated in an amber “high-risk” group. Horses that have had no contact with either the red or amber groups and have shown no clinical signs should form a green “low-risk” group
  • Colour code buckets and other equipment to ensure that sharing of such items between groups does not occur. If staff need to handle horses in different groups, they should always move from the lowest risk to the highest risk groups
  • The temperature of all horses in the green and amber groups should be taken daily. Any horse showing an increase in temperature — over 38.8°C — should be moved to the red group. Regular disinfection and rinsing of water troughs is recommended. Antibacterial shampoos will only kill S.equi emerging from ruptured abscesses
  • Four weeks after the resolution of clinical signs: horses in the amber and green groups should be screened to help identify other horses on the premises that could be carriers. There is little point in testing animals in the red group as all are presumed to have been infected. All animals testing positive and those in the red group should be investigated further by guttural pouch endoscopy or repeated nasopharyngeal swabbing. Those testing positive should be treated. The yard should not be open until all horses are clear

For the full veterinary feature on strangles, see the current issue of Horse & Hound (24 February)

Find out more about strangles

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