Strangles: What You Need to Know

By now, some of you may have seen the video surfacing Facebook based in Grand Junction, CO titled “Horse disease outbreak biggest in decades” reported by KJCT. Please DO NOT be alarmed by this news story!

We spoke with Dr. Alex Turner in the Colorado Department of Agriculture, who shared some important information about this news story from their preliminary investigation. He considers the current state of Streptococcus equi (AKA “Strep Equi” or “Strangles”) in our area to be a “non-issue,” but understands our concerns after the dramatic KJCT video. So far, the CSU Laboratory in Grand Junction has diagnosed one Strep Equi case this year, and there is no released data supporting the “biggest outbreak…in a couple decades” claim.

Things to consider:

  • Strep Equi is a low-severity bacterial infection that is rarely fatal. Horses will usually make a full recovery in three to four weeks with few complications.
  • Preventative Strep Equi vaccines are available and relatively inexpensive. They are recommended for high-traffic stables where horses are frequently moved in and out.
  • Strep Equi is spread from horse to horse through direct contact. Horses can also contract the disease by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.
  • High standards of hygiene should be maintained in facilities to decrease chance of horses coming in contact with contaminated surfaces.

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Fever, usually preceding other clinical signs by 24-48 hours*
  • Abscesses in the mandibular lymph nodes (in the throatlatch and below the jaw)
  • Nasal discharge: often thick white and yellow mucus
  • Inflammation of the throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing
  • Cough

Colorado Equine Clinic has not seen symptoms, or made any diagnosis, of Streq Equi yet this year. If we notice any areas of significant outbreaks, we will inform our clients immediately.

*If you are concerned about your horse having Streq Equi, take his temperature every night. A fever will alert us for more prompt and successful treatment.

Please see this PDF from The Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) that was sent to us through American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), a very trustworthy source in the equine veterinary industry.

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