Understanding Strangles: The Horse's Foe

In the picturesque region of Estrie, Quebec, equine health concerns have galloped into the spotlight. A sudden outbreak of Strangles, an infectious disease rippling through the equine community, has put horses and their owners on alert. Today, we'll delve into the details of this disease and share insights into effective prevention methods.

Strangles: A Snapshot

Horse owners, worldwide, dread the name Strangles. This equine infectious disease, scientifically known as Streptococcus equi subspecies equi, recently affected two horses in a stable in Quebec. The bacteria is highly contagious, spreading through direct contact or from contaminated surfaces, walls, water troughs, and equipment.

In a slightly chilling twist, equine carriers can unknowingly spread the disease, posing a significant risk to other horses. They can carry the bacterium and disperse it even without exhibiting symptoms, remaining contagious for at least six weeks post-recovery!

Identifying Strangles

Like a horse in hiding, Strangles can sometimes be difficult to spot, especially in its early stages. However, classic clinical symptoms include fever, swollen or abscessed lymph nodes, nasal discharge, coughing/wheezing, muscle swelling, and even difficulty swallowing. In severe cases, though, the patient could suffer from complications such as pneumonia or laminitis.

A PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test, typically administered using nasal swabs or from abscess samples, is commonly utilized for diagnosis. Curiously, the treatment protocol for Strangles does not directly target the disease; instead, it provides supportive care. This can include antibiotics, hydration, and nutrition, depending on the horse's symptoms and condition.

The Quebec Incident

This disease recently kicked up dust in Quebec, suspectedly transmitted via a newcomer horse introduced in late March. While two horses tested positive at an Estrie stable, ten others are suspected to have contracted the virus. Needless to say, this incident gives us a stern reminder of equine health's fragility and the importance of staying vigilant.

Build The Fence: Prevention Measures Against Strangles

The saying goes, "Prevention is better than cure," and when it pertains to Strangles, it rings loud and clear. While these preventive measures may not entirely eliminate the risk, they indeed make vast strides towards a healthier equine community in your stable:

  • Biosecurity: Implement stringent biosecurity measures to reduce disease transmission risk. These could include quarantining new arrivals and maintaining a close tab on the number of stable visitors.
  • Vaccination: Regular vaccinations can boost a horse's immunity against Strangles.
  • Isolation: Upon diagnosis, isolate affected horses to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Cleanliness: A clean, disinfected stable environment gallops a long way in preventing disease transmission.

Final Gallop

Strangles is a potent adversary, but with knowledge, precautionary measures, and careful management, it is an enemy we can stand against. The recent Quebec incident highlights the need for maintaining biosecurity, vaccinations, isolation, and cleanliness, making each stable a fortress against this disease.

You can do your part to ensure the health and wellbeing of your horses by staying informed and taking the reins in proactive prevention. It's the neigh-borly thing to do, after all!

References: "2 Quebec Horses Positive for Strangles" (no link available)