Strangles – What to do in an Outbreak
Facing an outbreak of Strangles on your yard can be an incredibly stressful times. Knowing the effective steps to take can save time, money and help stop the spread of the disease.
SPREADING THE WORD
There is no legal requirement to notify the authorities about an outbreak of Strangles but affected establishments are encouraged to advise neighbouring equine premises to look out for clinic signs and thus reduce the risk of spreading the disease. The vast majority of outbreaks are due to bad luck not bad management and being open and honest about an outbreak will help to reduce the spread of the disease.
It is important to maintain effective and non-judgemental communication within the yard to try and identify the source of infection. It is important to remember that the source may be a horse that is a carrier and therefore does not show any clinical signs.
All movement of horses on or off the yard should be stopped. Horses showing signs should be isolated away from the rest of the herd and a vet should be called.
Each horse should have its own feed, water buckets and grooming kit, and barrier nursing (gloves, overalls and plastic over shows) should be implemented. All equipment and stables should be disinfected using a strong veterinary disinfectant like Virkon.
Monitor the temperature (>38.5oC) of all the horses on the yard. If horses have a temperature, then they need to be considered infected until proven otherwise. They will only have a temperature for 2-3 days at most and will begin to shed bacteria a day or two after onset of having a temperature so knowing if there is a spike in temperature will allow you to isolate them before they transmit infection. It may also be possible to stop disease progression with antibiotics if these are given BEFORE abscesses begin to form.
Implement a strict hygiene and disinfection policy, with one person caring for the infected animals if possible. If handlers need to move between yards make sure they wash their hand and change their clothes, washing their hair is also advisable.
Riding healthy horses on the premises is fine but be respectful of others and never move from a contaminated stable to ride a healthy horse without following the yard’s bio security guidelines.
30 days after all horses have recovered signs then a guttural pouch wash or 3 nasopharyneal swabs with negative culture should be used to indicate the horse is free from infection. All ‘normal’ horses should be blood tested and checked in case they are carrying the disease.
Infected pasture should be rested for 4 weeks. Only when all horses are negative should a yard be reopened.
It is always a good idea to have separate feed and water buckets as well as tack and grooming equipment for individual horses and to not let horses mix directly at shows or competitions.
Contributor: B&W Equine Vets