New strategies for management and prevention.



It is not uncommon for strangles infections to recur on a farm, and until recent years there have been misconceptions about how this disease is maintained in a population of horses. These days scientists understand the phenomenon and can better explain it. We now know a farm that has experienced an outbreak of strangles, caused by Streptococcus equi spp bacteria, might have an ongoing problem, not because the bacteria remain in the environment, but because they persist within the horse, specifically within the guttural pouches or sinuses. Even though a horse might appear to have recovered, he remains an avenue to transmit disease to others by harboring the bacteria within his guttural pouches.

In the interest of eradicating strangles infection from endemic farms (those on which the disease is recurrent) and from the horse population at large, researchers have suggested new strategies to manage horses and facilities to reduce risk of an outbreak. They’ve also described ways to eliminate the bacteria from carrier horses.

Disease Opportunity

Josie Traub-Dargatz, DVM, Dipl. ACVIM, professor of equine medicine and epidemiology at Colorado State University’s veterinary school, has been instrumental in developing prevention and recognition programs to protect the equine industry from contagious diseases. Aligning with this focus, she is part of the study group that has been making industry recommendations on equine strangles control.

Traub-Dargatz explains that a horse might be exposed to the causative S. equi bacteria either by the nasal or oral route. Nose-to-nose contact and shared water supplies are efficient means of transmission. She suggests paying close attention to the use of shared water sources, since S. equi is easily transmitted throu