Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Shedding Light on Strangles in Horses - Full Article

by: Heather Smith Thomas
October 01 2010, Article # 17697

Researchers are working to develop a safe and effective vaccine for this highly contagious disease.

One morning you find your horse with his head in a stall corner, feed still in his bucket and discharge coming from his nose. You check his temperature and find it's elevated. When your veterinarian examines him, she says he might have strangles.

This highly contagious equine disease is caused by a bacterium (Streptococcus equi) that gains access to the body through the nose or throat. Some affected horses suffer breathing obstruction due to enlarged lymph nodes that narrow the air passages--hence, the name strangles.

For these reasons strangles causes considerable concern to horse owners and veterinarians, especially given the difficulty in developing an effective and safe vaccine. Containing the disease requires diligent biosecurity measures.

"Although horses can recover from and then have immunity to this disease, some horses do not respond to typical treatments or have a more serious infection and complications," says Josie Traub-Dargatz, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine at Colorado State University.

The Disease

Clinical signs of strangles include abrupt onset of fever, upper respiratory tract discharges, and acute swelling and abscess formation in lymph nodes in the head and throat/neck areas. The bacteria target the tonsillar regions (located in the back of the throat and on the tongue) if the horse lacks adequate immunity. If a horse is very susceptible or exposed to large doses of bacteria, the infection might attack the lymph nodes--and other parts of the body...

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