Horses and Strangles // Versatile Horsemanship


in today’s video we’re going to be
talking about strangles and what we need to do to try and prevent it my name is brandy welcome to my channel
if this is your first time here and you want to learn more about horses and
follow my horsemanship journey start by subscribing and dinging that Bell so you
don’t miss out I’m here today with dr. Leah Reed from the Animal Medical Center
and today we’re gonna be talking about strangles can you tell me what strangles
is yes I absolutely can I will start by saying that strangles is a giant pain in
the rear for any horse owner I do not wish it upon my worst enemy
so strangles is a bacterial infection of their upper respiratory tract typically
causes signs of fever we typically think about swollen lymph nodes lymph nodes
any lymph node in the body can be affected there’s a whole bunch of lymph
nodes in in the neck and throat latch area so any of those lymph nodes can be
affected what’ll happen is look at really big hot painful and they’ll burst
out with abscesses that’s the typical presentation of a strangles horse okay
that’s how it got its name because the lymph nodes would get will get can get
so big but they can actually strangulate the horse okay I I have a horse that
will occasionally get swollen lymph nodes and it’s almost like there’s like
a like a hot dog underneath her her skin there yeah so yeah absolutely because
those lymph nodes can get really big painful swollen they can sometimes have
a hard time breathing swallowing they can stand with their neck extended any
combination of any of those signs okay that’s the outwardly presenting horse
with strangles the tricky things with strangles is that some horses are
carriers that they can have the have the bacteria they can be harboring the
bacteria but not be symptomatic that they cannot show a fever they cannot
show swollen abscesses or fussy noses or anything like that they can be totally
fine walking around life is good those are the tricky cases so for me for
instance I have borders and I take on training horses and have lesson program
and we haul to shows well with horses coming into my property how can I
checked my horses from getting that as far as like quarantine so I can
quarantine the other horse how long how long should i quarantine them okay
so I’ll back up and I’ll say that the bacteria
it’s called streptococcus equine subspecies ekwa and to bacteria its shed
in the nasal secretions or through draining abscesses so think about your
kids going to school and picking up a cold right one kids sneezes on another
there you go one kid sneezes on the box of crayons
then your kid picks up the box of crayons
that is how strangles is passed also either through direct contact horse nose
to nose through their normal social behavior mm-hmm or an infected horse
drinks out of a water bucket and then another horse follows into that into
that bucket sharing bits sharing halters that have snot boogers and abscess gunk
on it that is another good way to in fact horses okay so when we’re dealing
with horses that are not symptomatic that don’t have fevers that don’t have
swollen abscesses that don’t have draining noses or anything like that
then quarantine is our best best option that that is how we can protect the
other horses on the farm mm-hmm the question of how long is it’s kind of a
non-answer because when quarantine when you bring a
new horse in we’re not just pouring tini for strangles we’re quarantine for a
whole bunch of other diseases yeah so we kind of hedge our bets on how long do we
do it mm-hmm the typical disease process and
strangles is anywhere from 2 to 14 days okay so if we arbitrarily pick three
weeks or four weeks then we should be okay okay that’s also going to cover us
for any other possible diseases that that horse could be bringing in so three
to four weeks mm-hmm it’s a long time yes yes especially if you’ve got like
horses that you’re training and you know limited space I need to move in
and that sort of thing but if you’re protecting your herd yeah it’s the most
logical thing to do so now with that being said okay so vaccinating against
strangles can we vaccinate against strangles yes we can absolutely vaccine
against strangles only horses that are well and healthy enough to receive the
vaccine it should get the vaccine period plain and simple at the end according to
so there’s a couple of different vaccine types out there there’s a injectable one
where it goes into the neck just like all the other vaccines do mm-hmm then
there’s one that gets squirted up the nose okay there are two different types
of vaccine they work differently to provide immunity mhm it is not
recommended that horses that are symptomatic or in the face of an
outbreak receive the vaccine okay we’re more likely to cause really bad
side effects okay if horses are sick okay or they are on a farm that is
actively fighting a strangles infection okay they’re more likely to get really
bad side effects okay which I’m sure we’ll get to in just a minute yeah so
how effective is the vaccine the vaccine is very effective oh okay yep it is very
effective and it is just like any other vaccines it gives us the the best chance
to protect our horse to protect our farm while we can go out and still enjoy our
horse by going to shows and train rides and things like that and either one the
one that I am one or the nasal one either one is yeah as effective yep I I
personally like the intranasal vaccine better because it gets to the area where
that bacteria is going to first be introduced into the body and that’s it’s
giving us that local immunity right there in that nasal in that nasal
passage in the tonsils giving us that best chance of immunity at that site
okay the injectable vaccine does provide really good immunity and like I said it
just works a little differently to provide immunity okay well the
intranasal one I can I can say from experience of witnessing it that when
you do the intranasal vaccine you also vaccinate your vet against it because
they get it all over them a wart seconds later yeah for those of you who
don’t know the intranasal vaccine is administered with a really long straw
it’s about a six to eight inch really long straw that gets placed up your
horse’s nose and then the vaccine is is squirted in there and the idea is that
it’s getting way back in the back of the throat to that area where the horse is
going to be in contact with the bacteria first something to keep in mind if
you’re gonna do the intranasal vaccine for strangles make sure to play with
your horses muzzle make sure to handle it often and maybe put your thumb up
inside and just rub them you know make sure to give the release when they’re
when they’re quiet about it that’ll really your vet will appreciate that
very much and will save a tremendous amount of time when the time comes to do
it so now horses can be lifelong carriers of strangles so with that being
said what happens to that horse if they’re a carrier like can they no
anywhere can they do anything what does that horses life end up to be like yeah
so it’s not necessarily lifelong it’s that that horse is a silent carrier so
it doesn’t have outward outward signs is it kind of like a cold sore kind of like
kind of like oh how people get herpes herpes virus and they get the cold sores
and it kind of goes away and we don’t really see the cold sore yeah so horses
have in their head into kind of the back of their throat what’s called the
guttural pouches and the guttural pouches are these big sacs that we don’t
really know what my horses but they have them okay add them okay and when a horse
is a carrier they typically have the lymph nodes that are just inside just
you know right close to the guttural pouches and abscess into the guttural
pouch and then they have this nice little little pus pocket in the back of
their throats that will drain into the nasal cavity so they can sneeze and
infect others that’s how yeah it’s pretty awesome it’s pretty awesome so
those are the horses that I think about our cats carrier okay that again not
again outwardly having abscesses blowing right right we’re snotty noses but
are carrying their harboring the bacteria and they are infecting others
okay those horses can be difficult to to find yeah to treat and to get them clear
it takes a little bit of work and taste a little bit of patience okay typically
we find those horses when they are there’s a new horse introduced to a farm
and surprise we have a whole bunch of horses break without success and we have
a whole bunch of horses break with fevers and we don’t know until that
horse is already infected other horses that horse that is a carrier we really
need that horse to go for in our air and go for referral and get to get the
guttural pouches scoped and flushed because that is the only way that we can
get all of that nasty crap out of there okay we can also treat the guttural
pouches once we once we’re in there with this scope treat with either an infused
product or sometimes we just tackle it with IV or I I am
antibiotics to get that horse clear okay the way that we know that that horse is
clear is by doing either repeat scopes and taking swabs of the of the guttural
pouches for culture okay and we need to have three condoms three negative
cultures before we can say that that horse is no longer okay and no longer no
longer carrying so without having those three a horse should not travel anywhere
or other horses shouldn’t be brought in unless you know for sure that that horse
is free and clear yes otherwise the risk of spreading it further okay
on another note this is why I also say that strangles is a giant pain in the
butt is because horses that are that have been previously vaccinated can also
get the disease okay so the vaccine is as good as we can make it but every
individuals immune system is different and that’s where I like to use the human
flu vaccine yes as an example yes you and I can both get the flu vaccine but I
can I can still get sick and laying myself in the hospital and you can be
totally fine right so every individuals immune system is different
it’s impossible to predict what horse that has been vaccine is going to get
sick and which one isn’t okay but it’s something that the vaccine is the best
that we have but it’s not a hundred percent okay okay what kind of side
effects are there from having strangles like can horse can it be fatal uh-huh in
the rare case it can be that I think is the exception not the rule
some of the side effects of strangles are one there’s it’s termed bastard
strangles what it is is the lymph nodes that are commonly infected you know
right up here in the throat latch that will strangulate horses other lymph
nodes in the body can be infected a well as well and that’s the metastatic or
throughout the rest of the body those lymph nodes can be infected that’s
what’s called bastard strangles okay so that’s a complicating thing of strangles
a condition called purpura hemorrhagic huh and is also a complicating thing
with strangles and that is an immune response that the body basically attacks
its own vessels and it’s you get a really bad case of vasculitis so all the
vessels in the legs they get kind of leaky and then you own an indominus that
can be pretty pretty serious okay that can happen as a result of an infection
that can also happen as a result of vaccinating a horse that shouldn’t be
vaccinated okay this is where before that vaccine is administered a
veterinarian has to determine is that worthwhile well and healthy enough
receive that vaccine okay well kind of like with a flu shot you can’t get a flu
shot if you’re sick yep absolutely absolutely our young horses or older
horses kind of like with the flu it can really affect young people and elderly
people more is it the same thing with strangles or is it like I pretty calm or
pretty much across the board as everybody like as an older horse at more
of a risk of having more complications yeah you think so younger horses yes
absolutely this is younger horses ones that are under five years old these are
the horses that I think of you’re good okay these are the ones just
my light preschool she kind of like preschool offends a kid and it’s like a
giant cesspool stop flicking tail yeah exactly
same thing with young horses okay so young horses yes absolutely they are the
ones that are going to be okay yeah at highest risk because they don’t have the
best protective enemy against that okay yes absolutely
older horses I I do kind of place them in a high risk okay because we know with
age we don’t have the greatest immune system sometimes and we often have
concurrent disease process like arthritis there sometimes metabolic
disease or some other things that can also lower the immune system so I do
place them in a category of let’s put the seniors by the young okay yeah you
know let’s not put let’s not send grandma – mm-hmm preschool let’s not do
that yeah yeah okay so let’s talk about some
of the things that we should do as horse owners to try to prevent this so a lot
of times when I go to an event I see community buckets so a water bucket
that’s shared between a lot of different horses somebody just kind of going down
the line and offering drinks they see that often
so avoid that I would for sure I love those people because those people have
have saved my butt at horse shows more times than not and I do thank them but
when we talk about disease transmission that is the thing that is going to put
your horse at the highest risk yeah is sharing a bucket either a water
bucket or a feed bucket or a hay net or anything like that with horses that they
don’t know okay horses that you don’t know that maybe aren’t vaccinated or
aren’t vaccinated properly or they’re you know those horses are young and you
maybe have an older horse okay you know so we have to really be careful
sharing bits isn’t that same category when it comes to sharing tack the what I
think about there is that the bacteria doesn’t live long outside of the body
mm-hmm so if a horse sneezes in the water bucket and then another horse
drinks it the second horses of etiquette at Congress but if that one horse
sneezes into the bucket and say it’s a green bucket these is in that green
bucket that green bucket sitting in the sunshine mm-hmm
two days later you feed your horse out of that green bucket chances are your
horse is going to be fine because the sunlight is going to kill the bacteria
the bacteria doesn’t live long outside of the body okay that’s good yes this
comes into the topic of tack and bits and bridles and halters and blankets and
all of the things that get passed around at shows and on trail rides because your
your bridle breaks and you got to switch and all of those things cleaning it
cleaning anything that can be cleaned washing bits down with you know hot
soapy water before you put it in your horse’s mouth anything that can’t be
washed like you know you can’t put your saddle in the dishwasher right you know
it’s not a thing putting it in that you know cleaning the best you can if
there’s any dirt debris obvious buggers on it clean the buggers off mm-hmm set
your set the saddle in the sunlight yeah get good sunlight for a day or so
same thing with blankets that can be washed you know get good all sides you
know flip the saddle upside down all of all of that contact and that’s one of
the best things that we can do to prevent horse to horse transmission
especially when you’re bringing new tack and new equipment into your into your
facility okay something I’ve always thought of is like when of that or
farrier comes to my barn or equine massage therapist anything like that
they’re going from one barn to the next to the next and I used to go to a lot of
different barns to give lessons and trained horses and I always thought
about that how easy it might be to transmit things from one barn to the
next just from our clothing our boots our
equipment stuff like that so what do you recommend as far as like like for
instance if you were to if you were to be around horses that had strangles what
precautions would you take to make sure that you don’t bring it to the next
place yep so I as a as a veterinarian can
absolutely be what we call a full night or a an object that transfers disease
from animal to animal I can absolutely do that my stethoscope is a lovely
example of that this stethoscope touches a lot of animals and it can transfer a
lot of disease if I don’t clean it properly so if if I have to go to a farm
where I’m suspecting either strangles or other respiratory disease I’m gonna
schedule that at the very end of my day preferably at the end of my day at the
end of my week so I have the opportunity to wash all of my clothes anything that
has touched a horse you clearly haven’t touched it first today really not
anything that’s touched a horse is gonna get washed is gonna get washed in hot
soapy water anything that can’t be washed in hot soapy water is going to
get wiped down with a disinfectant mm-hmm that is appropriate for that
surface so I can’t bleach my set the scope but I have these lovely wipes that
get viruses and bacteria and things like that
boots manure anything that that is in contact with the horse should be cleared
should be cleaned so the same thing with farriers that if you have an upper
respiratory disease strangles if you were even thinking that that is
happening then being open about it hey you know you’re yeah but you’re coming
on Friday gonna be like the horses of that I have their feet trimmed let’s
schedule it at the end of your week so then I want you as a farrier to only
bring the minimum what you need mm-hmm you know only bring what you need don’t
bring all your equipment right because you’re gonna have to clean it absolutely
absolutely cleaning anything that can’t be that can be cleaned disinfecting it’s
the bus that you can if not sunlights your best friend and doing the best that
you can but being open and honest about what’s happening and is going to protect
the horses in your surrounding well a friend of mine she had a large
outbreak of strangles at their barn and or I should say it was a large barn that
had an outbreak and they were unsure of how many horses were infected and
basically she put out a mass a mass post on Facebook to everybody just saying hey
our barn had this happen and we’re taking care of it but we want to notify
everybody just to let you know so you don’t come into our barn or leave our
barn and accidentally spread it around to more places and then once their barn
was cleared you know then they’re good to go so and I really I I really have a
lot of respect for that because as a horse owner I would hate to go into
their barn and then accidentally carry that stuff home to my barn so I think
that that’s I think that being open about it is a really good way of going
about it and keeping others safe I agree I agree wholeheartedly I think the other
thing that I’m gonna piggyback on with that is having an open honest
conversation with your veterinarian as soon as possible absolutely even think
that this is happening then get your veterinarian to that farm to examine
those horses as soon as possible your veterinarian is going to be your best
resource when it comes to how to how to quarantine how to disinfect how to treat
how to how to diagnose all of those things otherwise you’re going to be
dealing with this for months and months and months and months and months and
it’s going to be a giant pain in your butt yes so get your veterinarian
involved early and to get to give you the best possible outcome okay so my um
what I’m taking away from this then is and me speaking to the horse community
here’s ways that we can help prevent it and what we should do so first of all
don’t share any tack or water buckets or anything like that with other horses at
events or horses that they’re not pastured with or live on the same
property with and if you have a horse a new horse come to your property make
sure that it’s in quarantine for 30 days and if during that time you see the
horse have swollen lymph nodes runny nose fever fever
what about like eyes watery eyes anything like that anything contact a
vet immediately to see if this horse does have something something more
serious and if you do purchase use tack make sure to clean it very well before
using it on your own horse and if if you do have a situation where you have
infected horses make sure to clean all of your gear before like don’t take your
boots and go and wander off into town it’s a good idea to clean your stuff
before you go elsewhere and we want to make sure that we vaccinate our horses
against the bacteria absolutely the vaccine is to be if your horse has never
received the vaccine before it needs to be booster two to four weeks after it
receives its initial vaccine and then it can be administered annually so
initially two vaccines then annually thereafter okay I think that’s a pretty
good list for things to be aware of mm-hmm absolutely when in doubt ask your
vet well thank you dr. Leah so much for coming and explaining strangles to us I
hope this really helps a lot of you out there who maybe don’t know what what
strangles is or what it can do so thank you so much for taking the time to share
this information with everybody well thank you for having me I hope that it
helps the horse community to understand what strangles is and how to safely
protect themselves and their horses well folks that’s it for today if you’d like
to learn more you can start out by hitting that subscribe button thanks so
much for watching have a great day you


5 Responses

  1. Angela Hames

    April 30, 2019 2:37 am

    Great video! I have a few questions for the super informative Dr. and/or Brandi. 1.) If a horse has already had strangles are they immune to it afterward? (and for how long, a lifetime or just immune to a specific strain, etc.) 2.) If there is an immunity after surviving a case of strangles then is there a theory similar to that with chicken pox and little kids; like if there is an outbreak at a barn are you trying to get it everyone exposed and through the infection sooner than later so they all have the immunity? This might be a super dumb question, but I thought I would ask. I recall "chicken pox parties" as kid and this video made me think of that. 😉

  2. Tracy Rain

    May 21, 2019 11:26 pm

    The one question I would ask a vet is, "What is the animal with the best smell…the kind of smell you just want to bury your face into?"

    PS…your vets are lovely and so informative.

  3. All Thumbs

    May 28, 2019 10:08 pm

    As a kid I wanted nothing more than my own horse. Annually I begged for my parents to get one claiming I could care for a horse. Now I realize I knew NOTHING!! After watching this channel and several vet talks I’m grateful my parents had the foresight (or maybe just plain sense) to deny my dearest wish, though I was heartbroken. Thank you for this very fine education on equine care … and I still LOVE horses.

  4. winter davies

    June 10, 2019 11:31 pm

    I had a horse get strangles and unfortunately he got abscesses in his throat and stomach and wouldn’t eat and he so unfortunately we had to put him down

  5. kk doc

    October 16, 2019 9:05 pm

    I don’t understand why the method of vaccine administration matters because a vaccine only causes the immune system to create antibodies systemically. I don’t think you get more antibodies at the site of injection. Vaccines don’t work that way in humans (eg flu vaccine) unless something new is out there I am unfamiliar with. (which is possible lol).


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