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Strangles Quarantine Released in Fayette CountyKentucky
Kentucky Ag Connection - 01/23/2023

In late December, a Thoroughbred who arrived at a training facility in Fayette County, Ky., from out of state started displaying clinical signs of strangles. The horse tested positive on Jan. 4. Thirteen horses were exposed, but no additional positive cases were confirmed.

The quarantine on the property has been released.

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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