A quarantine has been lifted at a Bedford County, Virginia, farm after a veterinarian reported eight horses affected with Strangles. The horses first showed symptoms on Dec. 21, 2017, including cough, discharge from the nose, swollen lymph nodes and fever.
Strangles is an infection of the upper respiratory tract found only in horses, donkeys and mules. Strangles does not spread through the air, but it is highly contagious. It can be spread by an infected horse touching another horse or indirectly through tack, shared drinking water or feed, clothing, hands and other pets such as barn cats and dogs.
Twelve horses were put under quarantine at the Bedford County farm, but only the original eight horses showed signs of the disease during that first week. All of those horses have recovered and have been free of symptoms for the past three weeks.
The Equine Disease Communication Center has reported a strangles case in Pulaski County, Virginia.
The attending veterinarians reported the case in a Appaloosa-cross gelding who began showing clinical signs on August 22, including nasal discharge, swelling of the lymph nodes and fever. The gelding was initially isolated on the farm but has since been transported off the farm.
The gelding tested positive for strangles on culture by nasal swab, lymph node aspirate, and serum.
A Tennessee Walking Horse gelding and a Quarter Horse mare were also exposed as they were purchased from the same source and were hauled together prior to the onset of clinical signs. The walking horse gelding and quarter horse mare have been isolated.
Strangles is an infectious, contagious disease characterized by abscesses in the lymphoid tissue of the upper respiratory tract. The incubation period of strangles is 3–14 days, and the first sign of infection is fever (103°–106°F). Within 24–48 hours of the initial fever spike, the horse will exhibit signs typical of strangles, including nasal discharge, depression, and and swelling. Some horses have difficulty swallowing, and make noise when breathing. Older animals with residual immunity may develop an atypical or catarrhal form of the disease with mucoid nasal discharge, cough, and mild fever.