Michigan horse owners, beware, a potentially serious disease has been tested for, and found in two west Michigan counties. 

Unfortunately, two horses have now tested positive for Strangles, which could be potentially harmful to them, and any other horses that might be close to them. 

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The Practical Horseman has reported that two horses – one in Allegan and the other in Eaton Counties – were tested for Strangles, and returned a positive result. Since then, the horses have been put into quarantine, and have been undergoing treatments for the disease.

The horse in Allegan County was a 5-year-old Quarter Horse mare that was confirmed positive on Dec. 27th, while the other in Eaton County is a 20-year-old Paint gelding that results came back for on Dec. 22nd. 

What is Strangles 

Strangles is caused by Streptococcus equi, which is essentially a horse version of what would be considered “Strep throat” in humans... but with some slight differences. The bacteria involved is similar, but has different conditions in horses.  

The disease can spread very easily between horses with just direct contact, or by touching contaminated surfaces.  

Some symptoms include: 

  • Fever 
  • Swollen and/or abscessed lymph nodes 
  • Nasal Discharge 
  • Coughing or wheezing 
  • Muscle Swelling 
  • Difficulty Swallowing 

It’s important to keep an eye out for these symptoms if you own horses, but also keep in mind that horses who aren’t showing symptoms can still harbor, and spread the bacteria. Also, horses that have recovered from Strangles can still transmit the disease for up to six weeks, and could cause outbreaks that last for long periods of time. 

The good thing is, a vaccine is available for the horses, but not always effective. Specialists encourage horse owners to maintain a high standard of hygiene and disinfecting surfaces to help deter from spreading Strangles, or other diseases as well. 

The Horses of Mackinac Island: 1900-1960

Michigan Horseshoers: 1880-1919