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Strangles outbreak at wild horse facility

October 21, 2010

Eleven horses have died in an outbreak of strangles at a wild horse and burro holding facility in Utah.

The Salt Lake Regional Wild Horse and Burro Facility in Herriman is under quarantine while the infection, caused by Streptococcus bacteria, is brought under control.

Bureau of Land Management personnel are working closely with the facility contract veterinarian to provide care for the horses affected.

All animals at the facility are under a bureau-imposed quarantine and will not be shipped out until several weeks after any clinical signs are documented.

The bureau is also working closely with the Utah state veterinarian and following his recommendations to ensure any further spread or outbreak of the disease is contained on-site.

Necropsies are being done and bacterial cultures are also being collected to isolate the specific Streptococcus bacteria infecting the horses.

Having this information will help determine the best available treatment and allow horses to be treated with the most effective antibiotics.

Strangles is a highly contagious upper respiratory tract infection, causing a lack of appetite, fever, listlessness and a distinct swelling of the lymph nodes in the throat area.

Signs often include pus-filled lymph nodes, nasal discharge, breathing difficulties, and cold-like symptoms.

When the immune system is weak, the bacteria can spread throughout the horse's entire body, creating a systemic infection. Once the disease has gone systemic, it is generally fatal.

The primary groups of horses affected by the bacterial infection are younger animals with weakened or immature immune systems.



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