Horses Positive for Strangles in Washington and Wisconsin

The two horses reside in King County, Washington, and Green County, Wisconsin.

Map of Washington highlighting King County; and Wisconsin, highlighting Green County
Wikimedia Commons images

Two new strangles cases have been reported in King County, Washington, and Green County, Wisconsin.

On Aug. 2, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reported an 18-year-old Miniature Horse gelding positive for strangles at a private facility in Green County. The horse presented with fever, submandibular lymph node abscessation and facial swelling. The facility is under voluntary quarantine.

On Aug. 4, the Washington State Veterinarian’s Office reported one horse positive and three suspected for strangles at a boarding facility in King County. The state vet office, along with a private veterinarian, are working on biosecurity measures and possibly meeting with boarders.

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

About Strangles

Strangles in horses is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi and spread through direct contact with other equids or contaminated surfaces. Horses that aren’t showing clinical signs can harbor and spread the bacteria, and recovered horses remain contagious for at least six weeks, with the potential to cause outbreaks long-term.

Infected horses can exhibit a variety of clinical signs:

  • Fever
  • Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Muscle swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing

Veterinarians diagnose horses using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing with either a nasal swab, wash, or an abscess sample, and they treat most cases based on clinical signs, implementing antibiotics for severe cases. Overuse of antibiotics can prevent an infected horse from developing immunity. Most horses make a full recovery in three to four weeks.

A vaccine is available but not always effective. Biosecurity measures of quarantining new horses at a facility and maintaining high standards of hygiene and disinfecting surfaces can help lower the risk of outbreak or contain one when it occurs. 

Brought to you by Boehringer Ingelheim, The Art of the Horse

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