Tennessee Horse Rescue Quarantined for Strangles

Officials at Horse Haven of Tennessee, a Knoxville-based horse rescue operation, have announced the farm is under quarantine for the next five weeks after a case of strangles—a highly contagious equine disease—was diagnosed on the property.

"This is the first time since Horse Haven opened its doors to the public, that we had to resort to this drastic measure," the rescue operators said in a statement. "We would like to point out that the active case was not a new intake at our facility," the statement said. "It is possible that bacterium was carried onto Horse Haven property on a person or persons."

The organizers noted that, until the attending veterinarian gives the all clear, all public events on the property—including April’s open house and adoption day, April’s volunteer orientation, and the April trail challenge—have been canceled.

"We will operate with minimal personnel to prevent the further spread of disease," the rescue operators said.

Strangles is a highly contagious and debilitating equine disease caused by the bacterium Streptococcus equi. The most common clinical signs observed in horses with S. equi are a mucopurulent nasal discharge (a greenish, yellow, or white “snotty” discharge), fever, loss of appetite/anorexia, depression, cough, and swellings that are a result of abscessation of the lymph nodes (usually the nodes located in the head and neck region) due to an accumulation of pus.

Horses with active stranges signs are diagnosed based on their clinical presentation, and culture identification of S. equi in swabs of nasal discharge and lymph node contents.

Strangles is labor-intensive to manage and requires supportive nursing care. The disease must run its course, but hot packs applied to the swollen glands can help an abscess come to a "point" for drainage. Surgical lancing of affected lymph nodes hastens drainage and speeds a horse to recovery. Additionally, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications could help improve comfort, control swelling and fever, and encourage eating and drinking by reducing pain and inflammation.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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