Horses at a Ky. Training Center Positive for Bacterium that Causes Strangles

By Erin Ryder
Three horses at a private training center in La Grange, Ky., have been confirmed positive for Streptococcus equi, the bacterium that causes strangles. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has quarantined the barn.

Two of the positive horses at Highpointe Training Center have been removed from the property and are in isolation, with the third remaining on the farm but segregated from the general population.

Strangles is an infection of the lymph nodes in the head and neck. Abscesses in the lymph nodes and a thick nasal discharge are the characteristic signs of strangles infection.

Rusty Ford, Equine Programs Manager with the Kentucky State Veterinarian's office confirmed three horses did test positive, but said a slightly elevated temperature is the only clinical sign the horses have displayed.

"We've not seen any ruptured abscesses, no nasal discharges," Ford stated.

"There weren't any outward, obvious symptoms," Ford said. "Our horsemen need to be commended for the astuteness they're paying to the health of their animals. When there were some fevers they made efforts to determine the origin of it."

While the mortality rate is low, strangles is very contagious, with infected horses shedding the bacteria for several weeks after recovery. S. equi is spread by direct contact via the nose or mouth, or indirectly through shared water sources or feed areas.