Concerned about Strangles?
We have received phone calls from concerned horse owners wanting to discuss the facts about Strangles. Although I am sure you will respect that we are unable to breach client confidentiality with regards to specific incidences, we want to do our best to give good advice.
We hope that the following notes may be of assistance. If you have any further questions please call Penbode Equine Vets on 01409 255549 / 01822 613838 / 01837 506070.
What is the causing agent of Strangles?
A bacteria called Streptococcus equi equi.
What is the incubation period?
This is variable. Typically this is 2-21 days.
How is it transmitted?
Typically this is by contact with nasal discharges or with material from burst abscesses. This can be by direct nose to nose contact of horses, or via water troughs or mangers. It is also easily spread by contaminated clothing and utensils.
Up to 10% of previously infected horses can be silent carriers: they shed contagious bacteria into the environment without actually showing any clinical signs of disease.
What are the clinical signs?
The classical signs are an increased rectal temperature (greater than 38.5 degrees C), loss of appetite, depression and cough. As the infection progresses, a thick creamy nasal discharge can develop, as well as pain, swelling and abscess formation of the lymph nodes in the jaw (sub-mandibular) or throat (parotid) areas. Young animals are most susceptible.
Milder signs such as short term fever, dullness, loss of appetite and mild nasal discharge are increasingly common and may also be evidence of a previous or ongoing infection.
On rare occasions Strangles can lead to life-threatening conditions such as a spread of bacteria in the blood stream (Bastard strangles), or inflammation of the blood vessels with swelling (oedema) and/ or small areas of bleeding in the limbs, sheath, gums and eyes.
How is it diagnosed?
There are several methods for detecting the bacteria:
- Nasopharyngeal (deep throat) swabs,
- Swabs of material from abscesses,
- Collection of a sample from the guttural pouches with an endoscope (guttural pouch lavage).
- Blood tests can also be used to detect raised or rising antibodies.
It is important to note some of these tests are better than others and that none are 100% accurate, some giving false negative results. Depending on the stage of the disease and on the type of clinical sign shown, several different tests may occasionally need to be run over a few days in order to get an accurate diagnosis.
What is the treatment?
This is based around nursing care and anti-inflammatory medication.
- Hot packs can encourage abscess bursting and drainage. Cleaning and flushing of ruptured abscesses will speed the resolution.
- Antibiotic treatment may be appropriate in some but not all cases.
Following recovery, a guttural pouch lavage should be performed to confirm complete recovery, as up to 10% of apparently recovered horses can continue carrying and shedding this bacteria silently for months or years.
What is the prevention?
Strict biosecurity policies:
- Quarantine new horses for three weeks prior to entry to the main yard.
- Discuss with your vet the value of ensuring that new horses have a blood test in the week preceding entry into the main yard.
- Discuss with your vet the value of routine screening blood tests of horses already on the yard to identify carriers.
What do you do if an outbreak is confirmed or strongly suspected?
- Prevent horses leaving or entering the yard until you have spoken to your vet.
- Alert all visitors to the yard.
- Speak to your vet to help institute a barrier nursing and isolation protocol for your yard.
- If unclear, investigate the source of infection.
- Refer to HBLB Strangles guidelines in the Codes of Practice ( https://codeshblb.org.uk ) and Strategy To Eradicate and Prevent Strangles (STEPS at https://www.strangles.org/).
Although there is a vaccine available in the UK, it should not be used in the face of an outbreak. It can however be used as part of strangles prevention strategy. If you are interested, we recommend a yard risk assessment be performed at your yard.
If you have any further questions do not hesitate to contact Penbode Equine Vets, Holsworthy 01409 255549 / Okehampton 01837 506070 / Tavistock 01822 613838, www.penbodevets.co.uk/news.php
Great Britain Para Dressage Podium Potential Squad
This weekend saw Penbode Equine Vet David Rowlands attending the Great Britain Para Dressage Podium Potential Squad training session at Solihull Riding Centre to look over the horses. The British Equestrian Federation World Class Programme is Lottery funded through UK Sport.
(Pictured: Devon based Helen Mathie (squad physiotherapist), David Rowlands (squad vet) and Andrew Bowyer (squad farrier). Para rider Suzanna Hext (originally from Cornwall) and her horse 'LJT Enggaards Solitaire' (Sid when he's at home!))
David has been the team GBR vet for this squad for the last 11 years and the bravery and commitment of the riders involved with para dressage, and the great partnerships they form with their horses, never ceases to amaze him. This coupled with the opportunity to work with a great team of some of the top trainers, farriers, physiotherapists, master saddlers, equine biomechanics, strength and conditioning coaches, sports psychologists.... make this a truly inspiring and very rewarding environment to work in.
Thank you to everyone involved.
Do you think your horse is suffering from gastric ulcers?
Gastroscopy Day - 15 February 2017 - Save £100
Gastric ulceration is very common. Recent studies have shown up to 90% of racehorses, up to 50% of leisure horses and 50% of foals are affected.
Symptoms are often vague. The use of gastroscopy can diagnose gastric ulcers which can then be treated quickly and effectively.
Penbode Equine Vets are holding a gastroscopy day on 15 February at the Holsworthy branch, where you can get £100 off a scoping.
Contact 01409 255549 to find out more and to make your booking.