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Strangles is a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus equi. While the disease is common, with most horses exposed and/or infected at a young age, it is considered to be highly contagious. The incubation period is from 3 to 14 days.
What are the signs and symptoms of Strangles in horses?
How is Strangles spread?
Strangles is spread from horse to horse through direct contact or from contact with a contaminated surface, including contaminated clothing of caretakers, shared water and feed buckets, and equipment. S. equi is present during the incubation period and the horse can be a carrier without any clinical signs. Horses who have been infected but are clinically healthy can continue to incubate and shed S. equi. A recovered horse may be a potential source of infection for at least six weeks after the clinical signs have disappeared. After recovery, it is possible that some horses will become long-term, periodic shedders of the bacteria that can cause new outbreaks.
Horse owners, trainers, and staff should practice good biosecurity to help prevent the spread of this infectious disease. These measures include:
What to do if you suspect Strangles on your farm?
Immediately contact your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will need to make a diagnosis through culture or PCR testing to confirm the disease. You should isolate the suspected horse(s) at least 50 yards away from other horses to prevent contact. Continue to practice the biosecurity measures listed above.