EQUINE NEWS

MORE STRANGLES CASES IN FLORIDA

The Florida Department Agriculture and Consumer Services has reported new strangles cases in two Florida counties. A 12-year-old Quarter Horse gelding in Levy County used for pleasure riding presented with lymphadenopathy (swelling or abscessation of the lymph nodes under the jaw) in June. He was confirmed positive, and his vaccination status is unknown. Two pleasure riding horses on a Santa Rosa County farm—an 18-year-old stallion and a 19-year-old mare—tested positive after presenting with nasal discharge. The Santa Rosa County and Levy County facilities are both under official quarantine. The number of confirmed strangles cases in Florida in 2022 is now up to 35. Strangles in horses is an infection caused by Streptococcus equi subspecies equi and spread through direct contact with other equids or contaminated surfaces. Horses that aren’t showing clinical signs can harbor and spread the bacteria, and recovered horses remain contagious for at least six weeks, with the potential to cause outbreaks long-term. Infected horses can exhibit a variety of clinical signs: Fever, Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes, Nasal discharge, Coughing or wheezing, Muscle swelling and difficulty swallowing. Veterinarians diagnose horses using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing with either a nasal swab, wash, or an abscess sample, and they treat most cases based on clinical signs, implementing antibiotics for severe cases. Overuse of antibiotics can prevent an infected horse from developing immunity. Most horses make a full recovery in three to four weeks. A vaccine is available but not always effective. Biosecurity measures of quarantining new horses at a facility and maintaining high standards of hygiene and disinfecting surfaces can help lower the risk of outbreak or contain one when it occurs.