According to Redwings; the UK’s largest horse sanctuary, Strangles in on the rise with a fifth of horses admitted in 2012 testing positive for the disease. Numbers are expected to continue rising due to an increase in horse movement and many horses being sold at horse sales which are ideal conditions for the disease to spread.
Strangles is a highly contagious infectious disease caused by bacteria. The bacteria affect the lymph nodes causing the clinical signs such as: Loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, high temperature, nasal discharge and swelling of the throat area as seen in the image. The bacteria are spread between horses by direct contact with contaminated food, water, equipment or people’s hands/clothing. Horses who are young, sick or who travel a lot are more at risk at contracted the disease due to the way it spreads.
The disease is not usually fatal if treated, after diagnoses most horses make a full recovery with an intensive nursing regime in 2-5 days. However, if left untreated abscesses can form which can crush the windpipe or rupture which can prove fatal.
The key to conquering strangles is to know the signs and immediately isolate any horse which you suspect may have the disease. A vet will perform a physical examination by sampling discharge or taking a throat swab, the bacteria can then be identified and a diagnosis made.
Redwings have released a free information pack entitled “Strangles: Speak out!” which you can request by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org