<p>There's a troublesome hoof clatter going around equine circles in Michigan. Not quite the nay-saying kind, but rather, a health concern:<strong> Strangles</strong>. Lest you think this an overly dramatic Hollywood horse-thriller title, it's indeed a highly<strong> infectious bacterial equine disease</strong> that has recently impacted two horses in Midland and Emmet counties. </p> <h2>A Primer on Strangles</h2> <p>Strangles, a disease with a moniker that conjures unease, is caused by the bacteria <em>Streptococcus equi subspecies equi</em>. Its target? A horse's lymph nodes and respiratory system. The result can be severe complications if the infection goes unchecked–and in some cases, it can be</strong> life-threatening.</strong></p> <p>One 21-year-old Quarter Horse mare bought from an unnamed source had ongoing nasal discharge since October before the disease was diagnosed. On the other hand, a 7-year-old Friesian gelding only started showing signs of trouble—fever and nasal discharge—on April 1. Both are now under quarantine, and alarmingly, they exposed 13 and 14 other horses, respectively.</p> <h2>Spotting the Enemy: Strangles Symptoms</h2> <p>Just like most diseases, the symptoms of Strangles vary, but can include <strong>fever, swollen or abscessed lymph nodes, nasal discharge, coughing or wheezing, muscle swelling</strong>, and difficulty in swallowing. To the layman, your favorite horse might simply seem under the equine weather but these could be telltale signs that Strangles may have set its harmful sights on them.</p> <h2>The Spread of Strangles</h2> <p>Strangles is known to spread through <strong>direct contact</strong> with infected horses or their contaminated surroundings. Your horse having a frolic at the water hole with its best equine buddy, sharing feed or brushing against the same equipment? Those might just be the avenues used by Strangles to spread its tendrils. </p> <h3>Preventing Strangles: Battling Bug with Injection and Hygiene</h3> <p>Given the highly contagious nature of Strangles, significant preventative measures are a must to safeguard your lovable, long-faced companion. Vaccination is a potent tool in this battle against the bacterial bug. The <a href="https://www.aaep.org/">American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP)</a> suggests administering the initial dose of Strangles vaccine at 4-6 months of age, followed by yearly boosters.</p> <p>And it's not just needles and vials on the frontline of this fight: good old-fashioned hygiene plays a vital role too. Biosecurity practices should be integral to your horse-care routine. This includes <strong>isolating new horses</strong>, maintaining rigorous <strong>personal hygiene</strong>, and regularly <strong>disinfecting equipment and stables</strong>. Quarantine measures should also be taken seriously when introducing a new horse to your existing herd.</p> <h2>The Ongoing Investigation: Current State of Strangles</h2> <p>The situation in Michigan serves as a grim reminder of the pervasiveness of this contagion. Thus, understanding the prevalence, spread, and impact of this disease on the states' equine population is ongoing. Research is persistently focused on prevention and control strategies.</p> <h3>The Vaccine Conundrum: Effectiveness and Usage</h3> <p>Despite the availability of a vaccine against Strangles, questions regarding its effectiveness and the ideal schedule of administration persist. How effectively the vaccine prevents the disease and when it should be administered is under constant review and research.</p> <h4>Managing Quarantine Protocols</h4> <p>Another focal point of ongoing research is the management of quarantine protocols when a case of Strangles is identified. Effective quarantine methods can go a long way in nipping an outbreak in the bud, safeguarding both individual horses and entire herds.</p> <h2>The Road Ahead: Importance of Prevention and Control</h2> <p>With the recent Strangles cases in Michigan, it's clear that the disease isn't giving up. But neither should we. By understanding the symptoms, by ensuring regular vaccinations and by maintaining high hygiene standards, we can lower the risk of this contagion affecting our beloved horses. Keeping our eyes on the latest research into Strangles prevalence, distribution, and the efficacy of vaccines will be crucial in driving a successful prevention and mitigation strategy.</p> <p>In this horse race against Strangles, our collective determination to protect our equine friends will ensure that, sooner or later, we cross the finish line victorious.</p> Sources: [https://thehorse.com](https://thehorse.com)