Equine Industry Alert: Strangles Outbreak in Kansas Boarding Facility

Heart wrenching news for horse lovers out there: an outbreak of the infectious disease known as "strangles" has just been reported at a horse boarding facility in Johnson County, Kansas. The unfortunate victim is a strapping Quarter Horse gelding who developed a fever on May 3rd, and got a positive strangles confirmation on May 7th. Don’t fret though; I’ll break it all down in today's piece, hopefully spreading awareness, not the disease!

The Dreaded "Strangles": A Close-Up

For the uninitiated, strangles might sound like a strange name for a disease, but it gets its very descriptive title from the severe symptoms it can cause. Caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi subspecies equi, strangles is a highly infectious and sometimes severe illness that typically targets horses, but sometimes doesn’t discriminate and can affect donkeys and mules as well.

Strangles has a ghastly intention: it spreads through direct contact, either with contaminated surfaces or other infected horses. The tricky part is that these horses can carry and subsequently spread the bacteria for up to six weeks after recovery. Talk about the unwanted gift that keeps giving!

The Unmistakable Signs of Strangles

Just like us humans when on the receiving end of a particularly nasty flu, horses with strangles will exhibit a cocktail of symptoms, including fever, swollen or abscessed lymph nodes, nasal discharge (yikes), coughing or wheezing, muscle swelling, and difficulty swallowing. Makes your worst flu seem like a cake walk, doesn't it?

While antibiotics can be a knight in shining armor for severe cases, caution is advised. Bacterial diseases are notorious for growing resistant when bombarded with antibiotics, especially when overused. Overuse may actually prevent an infected horse from developing immunity, a crucial factor in fighting off repeat infections.

How is Strangles Diagnosed?

The nasty villain in this story is usually found out through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. This involves collecting a nasal swab or an abscess sample from the suspect (the affected horse in this case). This test is quite the detective; it can accurately pin down the presence of the bacteria even before the horse starts showing symptoms.

The Importance of Biosecurity Practices

While this recent outbreak at the Kansas boarding facility is unfortunate, they serve a useful lesson: biosecurity shouldn't be taken lightly. Regular cleaning and disinfection of equipment and surfaces, proper management of feed and bedding, along with minimal contact between horses can all help keep infectious diseases, like strangles, at bay.

Vaccination: Best Prevention Against Strangles

While preventative measures are crucial, they're not the whole story. Vaccination is a key player in the fight against strangles. There is no cure for the disease, but a timely jab can help reduce the severity of symptoms and prevent the horse from spreading the infection. So, consider equine vaccination a necessary shot in the arm for your horse, pun very much intended!

In these challenging times, horse owners and facility managers have a big role in reducing the risk of strangles. Implementing good biosecurity practices, facilitating necessary vaccination, and constant monitoring for signs of strangles are all part and parcel of being responsible. After all, we owe it to our equine companions to keep them safe and healthy, don’t we?

As daunting as managing infectious diseases may sound, prioritizing preventive measures and effective management strategies should be the bread and butter of our fight against outbreaks like these. Remember, the real MVPs here, folks, are knowledge, prevention, and action. Stay safe, stay alert, and above all, stay horse-loving!

Credit source: Strangles Confirmed in Kansas Boarding Facility