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Surge in outbreaks of strangles: Is your horse safe?

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) warns of an alarming surge in strangles outbreaks in NSW. Strangles is a highly contagious respiratory disease which affects all states and territories in Australia. In NSW alone, a total of 64 cases of strangles were reported to the DPI in 2013, up from only 29 the previous year. Vaccination is a critical weapon in the fight to limit the impact of this debilitating disease.

Reported cases just the tip of the iceberg

The large number of strangles cases reported in 2013 is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. The figures released by the DPI only include cases reported to them by veterinarians. Many cases of strangles are diagnosed by vets or horse owners without being reported. So the total number of strangles outbreaks during 2013 is likely to be higher.

Strangles can keep horses out of action for months

Strangles is highly contagious and can keep horses out of action for weeks, or even months. It causes distressing symptoms such as fever, cough, and greenish, yellow or white "snotty" discharge from the nose. Abscesses develop in the lymph nodes in the head and neck, which causes them to become swollen, which makes it hard for the horse to breathe (hence the name “strangles”). The disease is rapidly spread from horse to horse by contact with pus or discharge from infected horses’ noses, draining lymph nodes, or by coughing. Infected horses can shed the bacteria for weeks or months, even after appearing to be recovered. Apart from direct horse to horse contact, strangles can also be easily spread through contaminated equipment, clothing, feed or water.

You can find out more about strangles by clicking here

Why risk it when you can vaccinate?

You can help protect your horse against strangles by vaccinating with Equivac S or Equivac 2 in 1 (strangles and tetanus combined), available from your vet or retailer. Strangles is just one of a number of serious infectious diseases for which vaccines are available. So help keep your horse safe by ensuring all vaccinations are up-to-date. Click here  to create a vaccination schedule for your horse.

Is your horse is up-to-date with vaccinations against serious infectious diseases, including strangles?