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Signs of Strangles

Strangles is highly debilitating.2,3 Horses usually show signs of strangles within 3 to 8 days of becoming infected.2

The common signs of strangles include:1–3

  • A nasal discharge (a greenish, yellow, or white “snotty” discharge)
  • Fever (39–40°C)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Cough
  • Swellings that are a result of abscesses of the lymph nodes in the head and neck region due to an accumulation of pus
  • Laboured breathing due to enlarged lymph nodes – hence, the name “strangles”.

These distressing clinical signs can persist for days, weeks or months. Most horses recover, but they may need to be isolated for 6 to 8 weeks.2


  1. Strategy to Eradicate and Prevent Strangles (STEPS). The British Horse Society, Scotland, 2011.
  2. Queensland Horse Council Inc. Strangles Fact Sheet, May 2010.
  3. Biosecurity NSW. PrimeFact 648, Third Edition, May 2012. NSW Department of Industry and Investment.