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September 03, 2008 | | Comments 0

Horse Strangles

What are Horse Strangles

Horse strangles is a bacterial infection that leads to the swelling of the lymph nodes in the throat and jaw area. It is highly contagious with horses of all ages at risk. Those who are younger however are often more prone than older horses. There have been some cases where horses eventually die after a long period of illness. It is usually not fatal though. A sick horse can be ill for more or less than 14 days but will be back to normal as soon as pus is drained from the abscess.

Causes of Horse Strangles

The bacteria Streptococcus equi causes horse strangles. The bacteria finds its way to the horse’s system through the nasal passages. Although the bacteria enter the horses system immediately after contact, it will not be for another two to six days before symptoms of horse strangles appear. When symptoms do appear however, the bacteria can quickly spread to other horses in a herd or stable.

There are a variety of ways for the bacteria to be transmitted from one horse to another. Obviously, the bacteria can move on if an uninfected horse is exposed to the nasal discharges of an infected horse. The bacteria however are quite hardy themselves and can live on solid or liquid matter for a couple of days. This means that other horses can contract the bacteria if they share water, buckets, pasture, trays and holding areas of infected horses. The bacteria may even be transmitted by handlers whose gloves have come into contact with mucous containing the bacteria.

Horse Strangle Symptoms

The most obvious symptom is the swelling of the throat and jaw area. The horse will also be in a state of discomfort. It may stretch its head and refuse to eat because of the pain. Fever may also accompany the condition since this is an indication that the horse’s immune system is fighting hard to keep the infection at bay. Green sticky discharges may come out and the infected horse may also begin to cough.

Treatment of Horse Strangles

The treatment for this horse strangles is fairly straightforward. The first thing a horse owner should do is isolate the infected horse. Aside from providing it with its own single holding area, the horse should also have its own feeding and water trays or buckets. Handlers must also change clothes and gloves after handling an infected horse before moving to non-infected horses.

Once the infected horse is isolated, a veterinarian may administer antibiotics. Some veterinarians however simply advise horse owners to let the illness progress without medication. When the abscess becomes too big, the pus is simply drained out. This usually results in the horse’s gradual return to good health.

Although horse strangles is typically not life threatening, it should still be a cause of concern to prevent a whole stable of sick horses.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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