Vets are urging owners to vaccinate their horses against strangles to help protect them from the disease. Strangles is a potentially devastating disease and is another reason why a sound horse health insurance policy is a sensible idea.

The calls for vaccination follow the launch of practical guidance on preventing a strangles outbreak in the run up to Strangles Awareness Week (6-12 May) to provide the ‘BEST’ protection against the disease:

  • Boost immunity by vaccinating against strangles
  • Educate yourself and others
  • Separate new horses
  • Temperature check routinely

Rachel Harrison-Osborne BVM&S MRCVS is an equine field support manager at Dechra and a Strangles
Awareness Week collaborating partner. She is among those supporting the appeal to owners.

“Vaccination against strangles is a vital tool in disease prevention,” she said. “It is advisable that the equestrian industry follows the BEST guidance highlighted by Strangles Awareness Week in a bid to protect horses from this devastating disease that not only has horrific equine welfare implications but can also cause major economic loss to the equestrian industry.”

Otto was hospitalised for nine days due to strangles, but has since recovered

Jonathan Cleaver, co-owner of Ivesley Equestrian, experienced a strangles outbreak on his yard in 2023 and was featured on last week.

“The strangles vaccine is another layer to add to the biosecurity defences around our yard and allows us to be more flexible around movement, sharing transport and quarantine,” he said. “We see it as a massive step forward!”

Strangles is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus equi. For the most part, the disease is reasonably mild and symptoms of strangles in horses include a snotty nasal discharge, increased temperature, inappetence, dullness and swollen glands.

However, a good proportion of horses infected with strangles will go on to develop abscesses of the lymph nodes, most commonly those of the head, located under the jaw or behind the cheek and below the ears. These abscesses are the hallmark of the disease and the swelling of the lymph nodes, which precedes the abscess rupture, gives the disease its rather unglamorous and sordid name: ‘Strangles’. See a photograph of a ruptured abscess, please note this is a graphic image.

Those looking for more information on the strangles vaccine are encouraged to contact their vet.

For further information on Strangles Awareness Week, click here

Lead image by Shutterstock

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