Strangles help 😞 - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Wisconsin
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Strangles help 😞

So I purchase a lovely gaited gelding out of a local kill pen on may 3rd. I've never done this before and I put him up in my round pen far from the other horses. For 30 days he didnt show any signs. No fever. No swollen lymp nodes. He did have clear nasal discharge that came and went. My other horses all had that too, the allergies and the dust are bad this year. Anyway I talked to my vets and they said he should be fine. So I started introducing him just shy of the 30 day mark. He was put in with a buddy and could sniff over the fence with the others. June 3rd I opened a new jug of bug spray and he and most of all of my horses had an allergic reaction to the spray. I treated him and couple of the others who had it worse with dex and banamine. By thurs the 7th he started draining a yellow green slime out of his left nostril, same side as the worst of the reaction (long weeping welts along his neck). I thought it was just his body draining the toxins as he didnt have a fever, good appetite, no swollen lymp nodes, etc. So I decided to wait. Well it didnt clear up the following week so I had the vet out on the 14th. He ruled out sinus infection and pneumonia, got a swab for culture. His gut figured it was strep zoo so told me to start him on 16cc excede every 3 days for 4 doses. Unfortunately on 17th the results came back positive for strangles and a staph bacteria. So now my entire herd has been exposed to him and so I qt him and the buddy I put in with him... kinda figured at this point it was too late as he had been with him for over a week with the snotty nose, sharing water and hay nets and space. I've been monitoring my others daily with temps and checking their nose and lymp nodes. So far they seem to be normal. However yesterday I gave my new boy his final round of excede and I noticed his buddy had swelling below his ears that is not normal. His temp was normal but given his exposure I'm sure hes coming down with it as well.

I've just been worried sick... literally havent been able to eat much at all and having anxiety attacks about this. Mostly it's over the vet costs and the potential to lose my horses over this nasty disease. And my best friend and I often trailer together with our horses to trail ride (havent since this nasty nose business) but now I'm afraid my horses will infect her horses after qt. I've read up on the golden standard now is to do at least 3 nasal swabs at different times and they all have to be negative to at least have a good idea that the horse is clear, and according to my vet bill for just the one nasal swab it would cost me 150 per swab... that's 450 per horse that gets sick.... And if they arent clear I would have to take them to another vet to do a scope and flushes... this would cost me $1500-2000+ depending on how long and how many flushes. If I had to do this for each of my 7 horses I would be utterly bankrupt. And not to mention my husband has been giving me grief for buying this horse and I understand because of the potential costs and the stress I've been under has been hard on both of us. I'm just absolutely devastated and I'm terrified and I could just really use some support. Im totally alone when it comes to the health and care of my animals and I feel like such a horrible horse mom for being naive and ill informed. Has anyone else gone through this? If so how did you cope? What did you do to protect your other horses and other peoples horses? Thank you.
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 02:52 PM
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I just wanted to say, I don't think you should beat yourself up here. From what I've read, most places recommend that you quarantine new horses for three weeks IF POSSIBLE, or at least 10 days. You far exceeded that. And you were trying to do a good thing by giving this horse a new chance. I can't really give you any advice, but I just wanted to say you shouldn't be beating yourself up.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 02:53 PM
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: MO
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How old is the buddy you put him in with? Any clue on the rescue's age? Have all of your others had strangles vaccine? Following as I always vaccinate my youngsters til age 5. I have never had to deal with strangles (knock on wood), but can't a once infected horse carry the disease in a dormant state? Forever?
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 02:59 PM
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I agree I also understand that some horses can be carries for strangles but be asympomatic. Could be the snotty nose is something else. Regardless if he is positive it's possible your other horse has it now too. I'd be in close touch with your vet. There's all sorts of requirements necessary with this. Don't beat yourself up, you did all the right things and just had horrible luck. Is that him on the bottom? He's amazing. I hope everything goes smoothly for you.
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 03:15 PM Thread Starter
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The rescue is aged by teeth around 12-15. My horse hes with is 23.... so I'm really worried my old boy will be ok. Honestly my vet didnt reccomend me using the vaccine due to him seeing many horses still get strangles anyway and or having adverse reactions. So the only ones I've ever had vaccinated was my 10 and 14 year old geldings when the went off to training years ago. So none of mine are utd on strangles vaccine. And now that I have an active infection it's better to not give them the vaccine as it can cause increases chances of purpura hemorrhagia(?)... from what I've read youd want to have titers pulled to check level of immunity before giving them the vaccine. And I've been hearing mixed info on carriers and shedders. Most say qt horses for at least 30 days after the last sick horse doesnt show any symptoms. But I've heard they can still shed up to 6 weeks or longer. They say carriers are mostly horses who have puss still in their guttural pouches that contains live bacteria but they cant purge it and that usually flushing helps to clear that out... but that requires multiple flushes and hospital stay... and my vet is old school and idk how well read up he is on strangles cuz he told me to wait only 2 weeks after last signs and told me not to bother with the swabs as they're costly and they arent a 100% guarentee to not be carriers... and it's even more expensive to do the guttural pouch scope and flushes... so I'm at a total loss.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 03:36 PM
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I'd consider a different vet as yours seem to be pretty hands off with something very highly contagious. I'd get a second opinion.
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 04:03 PM
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I'll tell you what OK State Veterinary School did when I had my barn full of strangles. I bought a horse at a private sale, brought her home, 30 days QT just like you did. Nothing. Turned her out, and BAM! lumps under the chin and snotty yellow green gunk out of her nose. I knew it was strangles before I ever pulled her out of the pasture. I had 8 horses in the big barn down with it. Two mares had already been moved to the foaling barn, so we locked down the big barn and no one who went in there crossed the line to the foaling barn. We installed foot baths in front of all entrances and exits to both barns. I posted on the gate that the farm was on QT and no one was to enter past the gate. Employees left their vehicles outside the gate. Employees stepped in the foot bath at the gate before coming in further. At the feed barn, they put on DuPont Tychem suits before working in the barns or with horses.

The stallion developed b*st*rd (internal) strangles, so was in isolation QT in the ICU at OSU Vet Hospital for 30 days, with a trach in his throat. Touch and go for a while.

What we did for the cultures was every horse twice and the mare who brought it on the property and the stallion 3X (since he was the sickest). Once everyone checked clear, the QT was lifted and we resumed our normal schedule of training, trail rides and shows. During QT (which since everyone came down sick on their own schedule, ended up being ALL summer and into the fall) there were no horses in and no horses out of the property. I took all deliveries at the gate, no UPS or FedEx or USPS allowed past the gate.

Footgear worn into the main barn was left on the property and disposed of once everyone was clear. A sign in & out log was kept at the gate for every person who came on the property. Anyone who came in past the gate was advised to go home and shower and change clothes after leaving, before they went anywhere else and especially before they went to another farm.

Thanks to the strict management of the QT, the pregnant mares were not infected, nor were their new born foals once they delivered. Expensive? OMG, yes, it was horrendous. But it kept everything contained to this property and not spread all over the state.


The cultures are expensive but worth every dime. If you have a chronic carrier, you want to know it because any kind of stress can cause them to become active shedders and re-infect your herd or infect other horses (say on a trail ride). If you're able to contain it to just 2 horses, then I would do whatever I had to, to give the gold standard of care to both horses and insure you don't have a chronic carrier. It will pay off in the long run.

Now, when I bring in a new horse, it's 60 days QT, no exceptions.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 04:13 PM
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Hoping the positive swab of strangles is only because he is a carrier and not actively contagious. The presence of Staph might be a good sign that this is what is causing all of the problems. I believe Staph can naturally occur on the skin, and with the reaction to flyspray it may have caused a huge flare up. At least Staph can be treated with abx. Hoping for the best for you and your horses. It sounds like your quarantine was plenty long enough, and this could happen to anyone bringing a new horse home.
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Wisconsin
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I'm definitely trying to go with what I've been reading up on line as the majority and take what my vet says with a grain of salt. My vet thinks it's highly likely hes a carrier and basically told me my options to protect my herd was to either put all my money into him get the flushes done and even then it's not a 100% guarentee or cut my losses and either euthanize or dump him back in the kill pen... which I totally abhor. This horse is such a lovely boy, he rides well and never offered to buck and he is by far the smoothest horse I have ever ridden. If I was just riding and trailering by myself that's one thing but I dont most of the time and the last thing I want is to spread this horrible disease more to my friends and their horses. As for getting a second opinion I've tried that and gotten no response from the other vets in my area so that's why I'm reaching out on here for advice on what others have gone through.
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-23-2019, 06:50 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for the support. I'm sorry dream catcher you went through it but so thankful for you sharing your experience. I'm hoping that Roman (the new guy) is/was a low shedder and that Beauty (his buddy) has an easy time of it with this and my others dont get it. I'm always taking care of my two sick ones last. And if I go near their gate i always wash my arms heavily with rubbing alcohol or virkon. And wash my boots with a bleach wash. But first I check my horses, their temps, their noses, and lymp nodes. They all have clear nasal discharge that comes and goes but so far nothing alarming. I'm hoping they're able to fight off what exposure they had to him. It makes me sick thinking I wasnt as careful about contamination before.. I honestly didnt think it could be strangles. 😞 Anyway I've heavily sprayed down gates and everywhere he and my herd could have interacted with Virkon. I have a foot bath that I use whenever I leave an area. I should probably do two.. And two sets of boots, one for good horses and one for not... and average scrubs over my clothes when dealing with Roman and Beauty. I will invest in coveralls and a few more sets of boots. Two pairs for the farm and a set for work as I work on a dairy farm next door and I've just been using old boots that have holes so makes my feet nasty with the bleach water... I know not good.. this week has been hell so I'm trying....I usually put two towels on my seat for my truck and bring a fabric bag to keep my dirty clothes in to throw it in the wash when I get home and shower. And I spray everything I touch with Virkon. Like I said I am totally on my own in this and its daunting and I'm becoming a total germaphobe.

Dreamcatcher
So all horses on your farm got swabbed twiceOr just the sick ones? And the really sick ones 3x? How long did you wait to swab them and what were the intervals between swabs? Did any of them have a positive and have to be further quarantined or did you have to do the guttural pouches? Was that mare of yours a carrier? You've not had any issues since? Do you ever worry that the horses werent shedding at the time of the swab cuz they werent stressed? This is why my vet wasnt convinced that the swabs really work as they might not be shedding those 3 times and sometime in the future they start shedding again when stressed. I really do think I will go at least like you said the swabs its just a lot of money for a poor farmer girl. Lol

I am trying to remain hopeful that Roman isnt a carrier but would have become sick with or without the reaction like your mare did after the 30 days. They say the bug can incubate up to 21 days before showing symptoms. He would have shown symptoms at week 5 I believe. Could it be possible that he has had vaccines in the past and his body was fighting it off? Guess I won't know for sure unless I do the guttural pouch scope to see if he has the puss in there. I suppose.

What do you suggest for general care for a horse with strangles? I've never had to care for a horse with it before and I feel like with Roman he was "simple" as he didnt have the abcesses burst. What kind of feeding regime? I unfortunately have a small number of small squares and typically feed large rounds in a hay net. So I know that's not ideal for keeping their head low to drain. I keep banamine injectable to give orally and I have bute powder on hand I can give via feed or syringe. How do you hot pack abcesses?

My barn is an old wood structure with concrete floors. What's the best method of cleaning and disinfecting everything? Can I wash all halters and lead ropes like I do my clothes in a washing machine a couple times and hang dry in the sun? Stuff that he had some indirect contact with?
Thank you.
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