What is strangles?
Strangles is the most commonly diagnosed equine infectious disease in the world. It is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the respiratory tract caused Streptococcus equi var equi.
The bacteria cause large abscesses, usually around the throat, which can restrict breathing and swallowing. Rarely (10%) horses develop serious complications, including abscesses in the brain and abdomen, known as ‘bastard strangles’ which can be fatal. This is more common in horses that are already immunocompromised e.g. elderly horses, youngsters
Transmission can be through direct contact between infected and susceptible animals, or indirect contact through sharing tack, water sources, feed buckets etc.
The incubation period of strangles is 7 to 14 days. However, because infected horses can shed the bacterium for long periods, the interval between new cases in an outbreak can be up to 3 weeks or more.