Rhode Island Gelding Positive for Strangles
The horse lives in Providence County, where 10 horses are exposed.
A Paint gelding in Providence County, Rhode Island, is positive for strangles, and 10 horses are under quarantine.
A Paint gelding in Providence County, Rhode Island, is positive for strangles, and 10 horses are under quarantine. | Wikimedia Commons

On March 5, a 7-year-old Paint gelding in Providence County, Rhode Island, was confirmed positive for strangles. The horse developed clinical signs on March 4, including lethargy, fever, submandibular lymphadenopathy, and turbulent respiratory noises. 

The horse lives in a small backyard herd of 10 horses. Two horses were recently added to the herd after undergoing quarantine. The affected horse was not one of the recently acquired horses. The herd is under state quarantine because some horses on the farm are used for barrel racing.

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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