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Strangles - what to do?

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  • Strangles - what to do?

    Found out today the barn my mare is currently at has a strangles outbreak. That has been going on since mid-April and no one has informed the boarders of... I found out because I saw some loose ponies while walking my horse out, and let someone know and they said, "Oh, probably the sick ones," and I said, "Sick what?" Yes, please, rub your pus everywhere, WTF.

    It's a barn a friend has been at forever, and is inexpensive for having a decent indoor and turnout in the area. My trainer moved to PA after FL this year, so I figured I could stick my mare there and save some money for the time being until I figure out who I want to ride with (I've hit the limit on her ability, and am not planning on doing any showing until I get a new horse in the fall after the bar). I was planning to move her closer (this place is an hour away, the closer place has no indoor) sometime this month, just for convenience while I study for the bar, but now that's probably out...

    The barn has instituted no biosecurity measures. They let someone move their horse today. I was planning to take my mare to do fitness work at a park ten minutes away tomorrow, and would have gone if I hadn't happened to find this out. If I weren't finishing up finals, I probably would have been shipping out to take lessons to find a new trainer - unknowing that I could be spreading strangles everywhere. I rode my gelding, who is at a different barn, today, without knowing about the potential for spread. I am livid. I don't feel like this is acceptable and want to move my mare asap, but can't in good conscience take her to another barn until this has blown over. Apparently, it started with a few horses, they weren't isolated (i.e. they were turned out with a herd), and now there are 16 that are sick. They are not in the barn or turnout that my mare is in, but they are apparently going in the indoor and outdoor arenas that I use, and some ponies that have open pus sores are two turnouts over. I know it's unlikely to cause any long term issues, but I don't want my mare to get sick, and I'm worried that this will go on and on and we'll be stuck on the property indefinitely.

    My one thought was taking her to a vet clinic for quarantine, but I don't know how feasible that is. Are there quarantine barns aside from vet clinics or for the imports? If the barn was showing any kind of acknowledgement that this is an issue and taking any kind of measures, I would feel far more comfortable staying (things happen, that's fine, but they need to be dealt with when they do and this clearly was not). I just want my horse out of the situation right now. Any ideas?

  • #2
    I board at a barn that just had an enormous strangles outbreak, and there were also some of the issues you're facing like zero communication and quarantine. I could have written much of your post myself--our situations are that similar.

    Your mare has already been exposed at this point. The best you can do is keep her well away from infected horses and areas and make sure YOU don't track additional bugs into her area by petting sick horses or touching gooey things or walking through where the sick horses are without changing or cleaning your shoes.

    Taking her anywhere right now is closing the barn door after the horses have run away. Going to a different facility is exposing all of THEIR horses to strangles. (Please, please don't, unless they have a very, very good quarantine set up and are prepared for your horse to get sick.) Going to a vet clinic, you will be in the isolation ward.

    IF you've vaccinated, hopefully your horse will not get sick. If you have not vaccinated, she will almost SURELY get sick. Watch her temp, for signs of lethargy and for the tell-tale goo. The infection we just faced was over in about a week (per horse....times about 30 horses, it took about four months to run through pretty much every horse on the property, with some breaks where no horses were actively sick). I had one non-vaccinated horse abscess and one vaccinated horse just get a snotty nose. My third horse did not succumb, but she was on Excede and Rifampin (two heavy hitter antibiotics) for something different at the time.

    I totally hear your on the frustration. But now, with it all over the property, and your horse already exposed? Not a whole hell of a lot you can do. Practice very good biosafety measures and I would never, ever go from the sick facility directly to the barn where you have your other horse. Go HOME from the sick barn, dip your boots in a footbath, wash your clothes, etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      If a horse has already been exposed, does a post-exposure vax help?
      VP Horse & Carriage Association of NYC

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-F...ref=ts&fref=ts

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      • #4
        Originally posted by michaleenflynn View Post
        If a horse has already been exposed, does a post-exposure vax help?
        No. Not only does it NOT HELP, it increases the risk of purpura hemorrhagica, which is far, far, FAR worse than a simple strangles infection.

        We had one that developed PH at the barn. It was very ugly. The horse, thankfully, recovered, albeit with some complications.

        Additionally, due to the possibility of purpura, any horse who has HAD strangles should not vaccinated for strangles. Some vets say wait five years, some vets say never again in the lifetime of the horse.

        The horse at my barn had not been vaccinated for strangles for the several years his current owner had him. His history before that is unknown.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Simkie View Post
          No. Not only does it NOT HELP, it increases the risk of purpura hemorrhagica, which is far, far, FAR worse than a simple strangles infection.

          We had one that developed PH at the barn. It was very ugly. The horse, thankfully, recovered, albeit with some complications.

          Additionally, due to the possibility of purpura, any horse who has HAD strangles should not vaccinated for strangles. Some vets say wait five years, some vets say never again in the lifetime of the horse.

          The horse at my barn had not been vaccinated for strangles for the several years his current owner had him. His history before that is unknown.
          Thank you very much for the info. Is that absolutely 100% uncontested, as in common knowledge for all vets, or is it controversial?
          VP Horse & Carriage Association of NYC

          https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-F...ref=ts&fref=ts

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          • #6
            Originally posted by michaleenflynn View Post
            Thank you very much for the info. Is that absolutely 100% uncontested, as in common knowledge for all vets, or is it controversial?
            Common knowledge, as far as I know. I don't think you can say that ANYTHING ANYWHERE is 100% uncontested, but no responsible vet is going to vaccinate a horse in the middle of an outbreak, citing the uselessness of doing so and the increased risk of PH.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by michaleenflynn View Post
              Thank you very much for the info. Is that absolutely 100% uncontested, as in common knowledge for all vets, or is it controversial?
              It is not controversial data. It is the real deal. PH is an awful, terrible condition for a horse that can have life long consequences. Never vaccinate for strangles during an outbreak.

              That being said, a mature horse in good health can handle a reasonable exposure to strangles and not contract it. Bonus would be if he was given the IN vaccination. The unvaccinated young and old or any horse who's immune system is already stressed, are most at risk.

              Comment


              • #8
                Very, very not cool. The entire facility should be under quarantine with no horses going in or out. Horses that are sick should be seperated from horses that are not sick, and equipment should not be shared between them unless it is disinfected in between. Different workers should be handling each set, or else they need to change their clothes in between and use a disinfectant foot bath for their shoes. Anyone leaving your barn and going to another location with horses (another barn or at home) should do the same.

                I was at a barn before that had a strangles outbreak. (Horses purchased at auction were not properly quarantined.) It was NOT fun and it lasted a long time. You can believe that all new horses were quarantined 30 days after that.

                Unless you can find a proper quarantine facility willing to take her with full disclosure, I would NOT move your horse. She has already been exposed. Moving her now places entire other facilities in danger. (And there are a large number of "quarantine" facilities which have sprung up as an offshoot of the killpen/broker horse "rescue" industry, but which I do not feel necessarily do a proper job of keeping each horse truly isolated. Caveat emptor.)
                Flickr

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                • #9
                  Good lord! My barn is coming off an outbreak; one end of one barn was turned into a quarantine area, no animals were allowed on or off the property, there were signs up everywhere telling ppl to handle only their own horse, to wash hands between horses if they had to deal with multiples, to wash their clothes between barn visits. The public was prohibited from three out of four barns. Newly symptomatic horses were immediately whisked off to the quarantine aisle and their stalls stripped and sprayed down with bleach. (And no one but barn staff was allowed to handle the sick horses.)

                  I find it very worrisome that there are barns out there that are as laissez faire as the above...
                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Today I will be happier than a bird with a french fry.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If your mare is older...over 5...she probably has been exposed to strangles and has a natural immunity. And if she does come down with it, it most likely will be quite mild. In fact you might not even know she has it.

                    A show barn near us had it. In fact one of their young riders wanted to "borrow" my horse for her equestrian team because she wasn't allowed to take her horse off property. Of course, a resounding "NO"! I was afraid of her cooties, cooties on her clothes...you name it. Not taking any chances.

                    As with all things, keep an eye on her.
                    Ride like you mean it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If it were me, I'd move my horse to a quarantine barn for a quarantine period...then find a decent barn going forward.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        We've been through three outbreaks of strangles over the years.

                        The proper protocol is to quarantine the farm, move the sick/exposed horses to a place remote from the unexposed horses, and institute strict hygiene methods to reduce the probability of spreading the disease.

                        Our vets have always said that supportive care for the ill ones should be conservative. Generally we've exercised vigilance and let the disease run its course. In a healthy horse recovery without sequellae is highly probable. It will be messy and ugly, but not deadly. In the young, the old, or the otherwise compromised horse the risks of death or serious consequences are much higher, but there's no treatment with a track record of success.

                        Strict quarantine of the farm and within the farm is mandatory. Strict hygiene and cleanliness rules are put in place. Then you liberally apply Tincture of Time. Unless there are some recent scientific breakthroughs of which I'm unaware there's really not much else to do.

                        G.
                        Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The first vaccine for strangles was produced by the CO Franklin laboratories from samples taken in our herd, in the mid 1950's.

                          Strangles was something that just happened in those days if you didn't have a closed herd, but moved any horses in or out.
                          We had a breeding, training and competing operation and you can only do so much.

                          Guilherme is right, once you have a horse that is sick, you have to quarantine all and any sick horse needs to go to a different barn and be cared for by someone that is not going to the main barns.

                          In Europe, barns went thru that a few times a year and everyone knew just to be extra careful.
                          With most horses, even those few that got very sick, you just had to let it run it's course and eventually they were ok.

                          From many horses I have known come down with it, I only remember one month old foal that died from it many years ago in a WY breeding operation.
                          Very sad, may have been avoided if they had noticed sooner and separated the 4 year old maiden mare from the main herd before she had a chance to infect others.
                          They thought her smallish swelling under her jaw was an emerging tooth and were not careful enough.
                          That is how easy it is to miss.

                          The OP's case?
                          I too would call to barns and vets around and find a quarantine barn for now, then look for some other place to board.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Is there a self care situation that you could move the horse to; where your horse would be the only horse? That is the only thing I could think of. Your situation bites the big one.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              To clarify, I'm certainly not planning to move her to anywhere that is not equipped to handle a proper quarantine, or without full disclosure that she's probably been exposed! My question is more whether quarantine is a feasible idea, and what I can do to get her out of the situation without risking any other facilities. Has anyone here actually moved their horse to a quarantine barn before? Does anyone know what's around or have any recommendations in North Jersey, Hunterdon, Somerset, etc.?

                              She has been vaccinated for strangles in the past, but not in the last year or so. I totally keep to myself, horse-wise, while there, and don't touch anyone else's animals in general. The problem is that people will come for lessons (it's the lesson horse barn that's sick), touch sick horses, walk through and pet the horses in the border barn, derp derp.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by delusions of grandeur View Post
                                To clarify, I'm certainly not planning to move her to anywhere that is not equipped to handle a proper quarantine, or without full disclosure that she's probably been exposed! My question is more whether quarantine is a feasible idea, and what I can do to get her out of the situation without risking any other facilities. Has anyone here actually moved their horse to a quarantine barn before? Does anyone know what's around or have any recommendations in North Jersey, Hunterdon, Somerset, etc.?

                                She has been vaccinated for strangles in the past, but not in the last year or so. I totally keep to myself, horse-wise, while there, and don't touch anyone else's animals in general. The problem is that people will come for lessons (it's the lesson horse barn that's sick), touch sick horses, walk through and pet the horses in the border barn, derp derp.
                                Quarantine is possible. Strict hygiene is possible. Both are labor intensive and a major PITA. Both are also absolutely necessary when this sort of problem emerges. A barn that fails to do these things is being grossly negligent and should be severely criticized for the their failures.

                                Frankly, the OP likely stuck until the danger passes, her horse is no longer either sick or shedding the disease, and time for quartine has run. She would likely be well advised to sanitize all her tack, boots, horse clothing, people clothing, etc. before doing much else.

                                G.
                                Mangalarga Marchador: Uma Raça, Uma Paixão

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Terribly irresponsible of the facility manager/owner not to A) notify B) enforce strict hygiene policies C) prevent horses from coming/going.

                                  Something as simple as a lesson rider petting an infected horse and then petting an uninfected horse can be problematic. Farriers or other people visiting the farm should also be informed so that they can take proper precautions and not transmit to other farms.

                                  I've never had the need to utilize a quarantine barn so I can't offer you much there. I would contact your veterinarian. With so many horses in close proximity, it's possible that this situation could persist for many weeks as new horses become infected. Incubation is typically 10-14 days post exposure IIRC.

                                  And like others mentioned, vaccinating post exposure or illness is contraindicated.

                                  I don't vaccinate my horse for strangles at the advice of my veterinarian as she had it when she was young. We moved our horses to a farm we had purchased and all of our horses ended up with strangles. I have been taught that even if a horse didn't GET strangles, if they were potentially exposed, vaccinating can increase the risk of PH.
                                  A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                  Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I would put a call in to the state vet about the situation. At least where I live, strangles is reportable and the state vet's office will oversee a quarantine.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Marshfield--I googled before I posted and it doesn't appear to be a reportable illness in the OP's state.
                                      A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                                      Might be a reason, never an excuse...

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Still probably worth a phone call given the barn owner's disregard for common sense.

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