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Strangles Information

March 8, 2011

Strangles is a topic on every horse owner’s mind this spring. There have been several confirmed cases of the disease at different facilities, although not nearly as many as the rumours suggest. While a few horses in Southern Ontario will develop this disease every year, the overall numbers are usually so low that we do not feel that the risks associated with the available vaccines outweigh the potential protective benefits. This year is different. With the onset of show season, there is a real potential that the mixing of horses could allow this bacterial infection to invade many stables, ruining the year for competitors and trainers alike. After careful consideration, McKee-Pownall Equine Services has decided to recommend administration of the intranasal strangles vaccine to susceptible groups. This includes any horses that may travel to horse shows or teaching clinics this spring and summer, as well as others stabled at that barn.

Depending on your horse’s vaccination history, we will suggest either one or two doses of the vaccine to increase their resistance to the disease and help to prevent further spread. Although there can be adverse reactions to this vaccine, usually a mild fever and nasal discharge for a few days, these tend to occur in horses that have been exposed to the true strangles bacteria in the last year. Any barns that have had positive strangles cultures in the last twelve months should forgo this vaccination.

Remember that there are many infectious diseases can cause fever and swollen lymph nodes, so these clinical signs do not necessarily mean that your horse has come down with strangles. Please call the office if you wish to speak to a veterinarian about potentially vaccinating your horse.