An Unfortunate Case of Horse Strangles: A Lesson on Biosecurity and Disease Control in Equine Facilities

A recent incident originating from a stable based in MRC Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Quebec, puts in the spotlight one of the most feared diseases in the horse world – strangles. A case was detected in a 20-year-old gelding horse, which presented symptoms such as dysphagia, hypersalivation, and swollen retropharyngeal lymph nodes.

Strangles, or Streptococcus equi subspecies equi, is a highly contagious equine illness that can spread through direct contact with infected horses or objects carrying the bacteria.

Can Asymptomatic Horses Spread Strangles?

The risks with strangles are not limited to visibly sick horses. The horse world is galloping into uncharted territory as there is a growing understanding that even horses showing no symptoms could be harboring this malicious bacteria, potentially causing outbreaks in facilities.

Diagnosing Strangles in Horses

So, how can we tell if a horse has strangles? The diagnosis of this disease is conducted through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which doctors trust to confidently identify the bacteria causing strangles. However, diagnosis is only the first hurdle in the race against strangles.

Treatment of Strangles: Let's Rein in the Antibiotics

What follows after diagnosis is crucial – the treatment. In most cases, this involves managing the clinical symptoms, saving antibiotics only for severe incidences. However, indiscriminate use of antibiotics can end up doing more harm than good. Responsible antibiotic usage is a virtue that horse care professionals must strive for.

Preventing Strangles in Stables: The Role of Biosecurity and Vaccines

This recent strangles outbreak serves as a stern clarion call for equine facilities to buckle up on biosecurity measures. Implementing cleaning and disinfection schedules, managing waste effectively, and ensuring proper ventilation can help keep strangles at bay.

What about vaccines, you might ask? Indeed, adopting preventive measures like vaccination can play a pivotal role in controlling the spread of strangles. Although no specific vaccine targeting strangles is available currently, some horse vaccines can provide a degree of protection against it.

In Summary: Let's Put a Bridle on Strangles

In the ever-evolving world of equine care and management, strangles holds a formidable space. But by ensuring vigorous biosecurity measures and staying up-to-date with the newest research and advancements, horse owners and caretakers can put a bridle on this disease. Let's ride this journey together for the health and happiness of our equine companions!


1. "Quebec Horse Positive for Strangles"
2. "Strangles Outbreak in Quebec: A Reminder of the Importance of Biosecurity in Equine Facilities"