Strangles Report Shows Decline in Cases

(from Churchill Downs release)
The number of confirmed cases of the equine disease known as strangles has declined and there is no evidence that the disease has spread, results of a second round of tests performed on horses quarantined in a pair of barns at Churchill Downs' Trackside Louisville training center show.

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture reported on March 23 that the tests performed on 49 horses – including 43 quarantined in the west end of barns K and L at Trackside – show that 40 tested "negative" for strangles.

The results of the second round of tests found that:
-- 28 horses had returned "negative" results in both of their strangles tests;
-- Six horses had tested "positive" for the disease on both occasions;
-- 12 horses that returned "positive" results for the infection on their first test had returned a "negative" result on the second tests.

Test results on three horses were still pending.

"We are encouraged that this second round of test results indicates that the precautionary measures recommended by state agriculture officials and implemented at Trackside are having their desired effect," said Steve Sexton, president of Churchill Downs. "The number of 'positive' results in those tests declined from the initial round and, most importantly, it appears that our joint efforts to contain the organism to those barns have been effective to this point. We will continue those preventive quarantine measures and we wish to assure our horsemen that we are doing everything possible to ensure that their horses will not be at risk for exposure to this disease in our facilities."

Strangles is an equine bacterial infection that causes fever, nasal discharge, and swelling in the throat. In severe cases, it leads to the formation of abscesses in the throat that limit a horse's breathing.

A third round of tests is scheduled on each of those horses. The tests will include an endoscopic examination of the throat and gutteral pouches of the 28 horses that have returned "negative" results in their two previous tests. Results of the third set of tests should be returned to the KDA late next week.

The horses that have returned "negative" results on both tests were moved on Wednesday from barns K and L at Trackside to barn D, where they will remain in quarantine until the results of the third round of tests have been returned.

Those horses will continue to be separated from the general horse population at Trackside and will be allowed on the track only during alternate training hours of 2-3 p.m. (EST). If those horses are again found to be free of the infection when the results of the third round of tests are returned, they will be allowed to return to the general horse population and participate in regular training hours.

The six horses that have twice tested "positive" for the disease will be moved from the Trackside grounds within the next few days and relocated to other quarantine facilities to continue their treatment for the ailment.