Strangles - purpura hemorrhagica

By Nicky

Your news

16 February 2010 12:43

When people say Strangles to me, it sends shivers down my spine, and makes me smile at the same time knowing that my vet did everything possible to save my best friend.

Eight years ago, I was a livery where the owner was a dealer bringing horses over from Ireland.  I was told that on one of the days (where my mare was in her stable) all the horses on the lorry escaped onto the yard, thus my story begins....

Within 3 days, my horse was showing signs of distress eating and drinking and obviously I called my vet immediately to which the initial diagnosis of Strangles was made.  The swabs had been sent off and I awaited with anticipation of the outcome, which was positive.  My mare was put on penicillin.

At the same time as the diagnosis, the yard owner was told by my vet to close the yard and stop all horse movement.  The yard was kept open!!  I wont state any further...  I found a field to move my mare to, on her own and away from contact with persons and other horses, made everyone aware of the danger she posed to other horses and Beware signs all round her field.  On moving after 2 weeks of the inital diagnosis, all looked well, my mare had no abcess showing and eating and drinking was not an issue. 

It all started going wrong, Purpura Hemorrhagica (PH).

How do you deal with this??  All I had was a leaflet from my vet detailing strangles, and PH was noted as a complication however all I remember seeing was that this was uncommon and fatal.

PH has the symptoms of blood vessels bursting and the horse bleeding through its skin, mouth and nose.  The build up of blood meant my horse had no knee or fetlock joint her legs looked like tree stumps, her stomach had a firm swelling of blood, touching her legs the blood would just seep through her skin.  Not a pretty sight.

Seeing my vet every lunchtime, with saline drips as my mare had stopped eating and drinking,  me injecting my horse and giving her steriods was the only way that I would have any chance in saving her life.  

None of the equine hospitals would take my horse as she still had strangles, so 2 months treatment for the PH, my mare stopped bleeding.

Then I had to tackle the Strangles, organising transport with an infected horse - was impossible!!

In the end I transported my horse to the RVC, to which after a couple of visits to their quarantine unit my mare was no longer a carrier of Strangles.

Thanks to my vet, and a strong willed horse after 5 months of hell the road to recovery was amazing.