Strangles

Strangles is a contagious disease of horses caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus equi (S equi). Horses acquire the infection from other horses, who may or may not be showing signs of the disease. Horses with Strangles typically have a fever, nasal discharge and swollen lymph nodes. The lymph nodes may form abscesses, which can then burst and drain purulent material (‘pus’). Most horses with Strangles will recover uneventfully, but in about 20% of horses complications will occur. In fact, the name ‘Strangles’ comes from one of these complications – the lymph nodes which surround the larynx and pharynx (the throat) may become so enlarged that the block flow of air, hence the horse sounds like it is being ‘strangled’. In these cases, a tracheotomy, or ‘trach tube’ where a temporary hole is made into the trachea (the windpipe) is necessary to allow the horse to breathe.