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Strangles Disease

About this Disease, Prevention and Control

Strangles discStrangles is one of the most common infectious diseases of horses in the world and in the UK we experience regular disease outbreaks. Strangles can be responsible for shutting down yards for many months impacting on income, denting profits through massive vet bills and causing disruption to equine shows and events.

Signs of Disease - What to look out for

Horses of any age may contract Strangles, although the young and elderly are more susceptible. Signs include a fever, poor appetite, and depression. The horse will produce a discharge from the nostrils which turns thick and yellow. The horse’s upper respiratory lymph nodes become swollen or enlarged and these can abscess. The disease is extremely unpleasant for the horse and expensive for the owner in terms of veterinary care and recovery time. Strangles is not usually fatal but a small number of horses have complications including spread of infection to multiple organs and this can prove life threateningl. Veterinary care is essential in combating this disease and to prevent its spread.

How a Horse Becomes Infected

Strangles is spread when nasal discharge or material from the draining abscess contaminates pastures, stables, feed buckets etc. Horses in riding schools, livery yards, racing stables or stud farms are most at risk due to close contact with other horses. An animal can become infected after exposure to another horse that is shedding the Streptococcus equi bacteria, either during or after its own bout of the illness. This can often happen when new horses are introduced to a yard. Although the infectious horse may no longer show signs of strangles and appear perfectly healthy, it can continue to shed the bacteria as a “carrier animal”. Other methods of disease spread include contaminated water and equipment such as grooming kit or from human hands or clothing.

Photos by kind permission of Redwings. From left to right, abscesses, chondroid in the guttural pouch of a "carrier animal", multiple chondroids removed by guttural pouch lavage.

Strangles infectionRedwings gut pounchRedwing schondroids


Defending your yard from Strangles

The main defense against Strangles:

  • identify and treat any carrier animals
  • maintain or introduce practical  biosecurity measures to protect against infectious disease.

Join the Premium Assured Strangles Scheme!

Download Redwings latest Strangles Info Pack (interactive pdf)

Visit Redwings Strangles Hub for guidance and information and make your pledge to Stamp Out Strangles!

Read this useful Article - written by Lee Hackett (Policy Director) BHS Summer 2014

Premium Assured Strangles Scheme (PASS)

Address: SRUC Veterinary Services, Pentland Science Park, Bush Loan, Penicuik, Midlothian, EH26 0PZ

Telephone: 0131 535 3130

Fax: 0131 535 3131


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