Disease reported among horses

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 12, 2003

Cooperative Extension Service officials are warning horse ownersto be aware of a disease that has been reported in Lincoln andsurrounding counties.

Lincoln County 4-H Youth Agent Amanda Walker said she receivedseveral calls last week concerning strangles, a highly-contagiousdisease that is a major concern to the horse industry. It is causedby a bacteria and, in some cases, causes chronic illness or evendeath in horses.

“It doesn’t affect humans,” Walker said.

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Symptoms of strangles include pus discharging from the horse’snostrils and abscesses forming in the lymph glands under the jaw.The abscesses, which veterinarians should lance, may burst andexude a thick yellow pus.

Affected horses can also have fever and may be depressed andstop eating.

Walker did not have an exact number of affected horses in thearea.

“The board of animal health doesn’t keep track of cases,” Walkersaid. “I only get calls.”

Strangles is very contagious, especially among foals, and canresult in a large outbreak. The disease is spread in the dischargesfrom the animal’s nose and burst abscesses.

Barn objects, such as stalls, water troughs, feed buckets,brushes and reins, can also spread the disease if they come incontact with the pus. Recovered horses can still spread the diseasefor up to six weeks.

Walker strongly advised horse owners to contact theirveterinarians immediately if they suspect their horse is infected.The vet can then determine the best course of treatment andmanagement plan.

Walker said vaccination can reduce symptoms of strangles butwould not completely prevent the horse from contracting thedisease.

“You can vaccinate, but they can still get it,” Walker said.

Most animals recover, but horses that have strangles should beisolated and removed from training or heavy work for up to threemonths. The proper rest time for an infected horse should bedetermined by a veterinarian, Walker said.