Research News: 03/06

“Strangles” Found In Muscles Of Back And Hindquarters
A recent report from the veterinary school at Iowa State, published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Society, has added another serious consideration to the list of complications steming from strangles. The article reports on four horses with typical upper-respiratory strangles in their lymph nodes and gutteral pouches who went on to develop extensive breakdown of the muscles of their back and hindquarters.

Despite treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications, three of the horses went down and couldn’t rise. Those had to be euthanized. The fourth horse did not go down and recovered. Post-mortem examination (necropsy) revealed extensive areas of muscle destruction. Special studies confirmed the presence of the strangles bacteria in the muscles.

The traditional approach to treatment of horses with strangles is not to use antibiotics, since this might slow the process of the abscesses coming to a head and draining. However, with the growing number of reports of particularly aggressive strangles infections, and this new, potentially fatal, infection, that may change. Penicillin is still the drug of choice for treating this disease.

Strangles is caused by a strain of bacteria called Streptococcus equi. Most infected horses show abscesses of the lymph nodes under the jaw, which rupture and drain pus. The bacteria may also enter the gutteral pouches. More serious complications include internal abscesses, pneumonia or the development of purpura, inflammation of the blood vessels that causes extreme swelling of the legs with oozing, and often severe laminitis.


Blood Test for Tapes Now Available
Diagnosing tapeworms, a major cause of colic, is difficult by fecal examinations. A better choice is a blood test that detects antibodies to tapes. Originally used in the United Kingdom, it is now available in the United States.

Dr. Steve Kania and Dr. Craig Reinemeyer at the Veterinary Immunology Laboratory of the University of Tennessee used the technique to screen over 30,000 blood samples from across the country for antibodies to tapeworms, documenting from 12.5% (West Coast) to over 98% positive results (east of the Mississippi). The lab can accept samples for diagnostic purposes. Have your veterinarian contact the lab at:

Veterinary Immunology Laboratory
Dept. of Comparative Medicine
University of Tennessee
2407 River Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996

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