Strangles Continues to Spread in Florida

Officials have confirmed one new case of strangles in Levy County and two cases of strangles in Santa Rosa County.

The Florida Department of 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) on June 23. He was confirmed positive on June 28, 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 on June 28 after presenting with nasal discharge on June 21.

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.

EDCC Health Watch is an Equine Network marketing program that utilizes information from the Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC) to create and disseminate verified equine disease reports. The EDCC is an independent nonprofit organization that is supported by industry donations in order to provide open access to infectious disease information.

About Strangles

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
  • 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.

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