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Two cases of strangulation confirmed at Washington Boarding Facility – The Horse

Two horses at a boarding school in Spokane County, Washington, tested positive for strangles and are under quarantine.
Two horses at a boarding school in Spokane County, Washington, tested positive for strangles and are under quarantine. | Adobe Stock

Two horses at a boarding school in Spokane County, Washington, recently tested positive for strangles. The horses are in quarantine and receiving veterinary care.

EDCC Health Watch is a marketing program of the Equine Network that uses information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and distribute verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization supported by industry donations to provide open access to infectious disease information.

About strangles

Strangulation in horses is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies directly and spread by direct contact with other equines or contaminated surfaces. Horses that show no clinical signs can harbor and spread the bacteria, and recovered horses remain contagious for at least six weeks, with the potential to cause long-term outbreaks.

Infected horses may show several clinical signs:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes
  • Snot
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Swelling of the muscles
  • Difficulty swallowing

Veterinarians diagnose horses using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests with a nasal swab, rinse, or abscess sample, and they treat most cases based on clinical signs, using antibiotics for severe cases. Overuse of antibiotics can prevent an infected horse from developing immunity. Most horses recover completely within three to four weeks.

A vaccine is available, but not always effective. Biosecurity measures such as quarantining new horses in a facility and maintaining high hygiene standards and disinfecting surfaces can help reduce the risk of an outbreak or contain an outbreak when it occurs.

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